Story of Petřín Tower – Younger sister of Eiffel Tower
It was 1889 when 363 members of the Czech Tourists Club went to the World Exhibition in Paris. Paris was an unforgettable experience for them, and of course the Eiffel Tower made the biggest impression on them. Maybe it was just a joke at first, but on the way home, they agreed on a train that they will create a similar dominant feature in Prague. And they did!
At the first meeting, they chose the highest Prague hill called Petřín for construction, from where the greater part of the Czech Kingdom was visible. They also put their 1031 gold coins in the joint treasury. But that wasn’t enough. They were not able to pay whole construction by themself, so they raised a fund. The construction of the monument was estimated at a total of 32,000 guldens. So the most eloquent one was chosen among the tourists, Dr. Kurz, to appeal to the Czech public to be enthusiastic enough for the observation tower. So Dr. Kurz wrote a visionary article that was published in the leading German paper Der Politik, under the title “Lookout Tower on Petrin, a Picture from the Near Future of Prague.” He added a devilish term to his visionary vision: only one year! The article impressed the Czech public as a drug. There were some doubters who thought the article was a joke, but soon, enough money was collected for the tower.
The work began in March 1891 and was completed on July 2, in less than four months. Compared to the two years that took the construction of the Eiffel Tower, it is a respectable performance. The observation tower was inaugurated on August 20, 1891. The entire Petřín Hill was shrouded in national colors and a red and white banner waved at the top of the lookout tower. About seventeen meters above the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
On 5 July 1938 a fire broke out at the top of the lookout tower, probably due to an electric short in the elevator car. One hundred visitors to the observation tower were evacuated. Until mid-August 1938, the lookout tower was repaired and made accessible to the public.
And then there is another interesting fact. During his visit to occupied Prague (March 15-16, 1939), Adolf Hitler wished the Petřín Lookout Tower to be demolished as it allegedly spoiled the view from Prague Castle. But the wish was never accepted during the occupation.
In September 1979, the tower was closed to the public for poor technical condition. The lookout tower was reopened after the most necessary repairs in May 1991, when the General Czechoslovak Exhibition was held for the 100th anniversary of the Earth Jubilee Exhibition.
The observation tower has 11 meters deep foundations and a 63.5 meter high steel structure weighing 175 tonnes. The core of the structure is the octagonal tube in which the elevator is located; there are two spiral staircases with 299 steps around it – one for walking up, the other for walking down. The total height of the tower is 65.5 m.
In addition to the panoramic view of Prague, including the nearby Prague Castle, the view tower opens a clear view of the Czech Republic in clear weather.
You can visit the Petřín Lookout Tower, one of the landmarks of Prague, today. It’s a cool trip. So see you there!