I’ve been to Prague many times since I wrote about it at the start of the blog. Whenever I return, I repeat some oldies and goodies that I love there, and try a few new things as well. Ondra and I recently took a 3-day trip to Prague in order to get to Terezín, and we had some fun moments there to balance the sadness of the former military fortress and concentration camp.
I love Prague’s multicolored buildings.
We stayed at Penzion 15 in Prague 3 (Žižkov). It was about a 10-15 minute walk from the main train station, but it’s not super fun when it’s uphill and 28 degrees Celsius (82.4 Fahrenheit) outside. It was a fine, and economical, place to stay (1400czk for 2 nights) and it gave us a nice although somewhat foggy sunset view:
We realized later that if we looked out and to the left, we had a perfect view of the art nouveau Municipal House (one of my favorite places in Prague) and the Powder Tower.
During this trip we stayed mostly in Žižkov, where our pension was, and Prague 4 (Karlín).
The Žižkov TV Tower
At 216m (709ft), the TV Tower dominates the landscape of Prague 3. If you’re looking for it, you can’t really miss it 🙂
On our way there, we stopped for dinner at Pho Vietnam Tuan & Luan, a famous place for Vietnamese cuisine in Prague, take-out or counter only, with a separate sit-down café just down the street. As I mainly get pho soup (filling and never more than 130czk), that wasn’t an option at the café. We got chicken pho (110czk) and a spring roll (20czk). To be honest, for me, it didn’t live up to the hype – the broth wasn’t as full or hearty as others I’ve had, and in the end I just regretted making more plastic waste. (My favorite Vietnamese place at the moment is Sun Rice in Brno.)
Back to the TV Tower – the website is very funny, as it proclaims the tower is:
- The highest building in Czech Republic
- The highest observatory in Czech Republic
- The second ugliest building in the world
However, it doesn’t say what THE ugliest building is 😦
The TV Tower in Žižkov was built between 1985 and 1992 according to the design of Ing. Arch.Václav Aulický and Dr. Ing. Jiří Kozák. Despite critical reactions of local residents who pointed to the contrast of high-tech architecture and the historic neighborhood of Zizkov, the tower was completed. Today, the tower is recognised as a dominant feature of The Prague panorama.
The television transmitter tower is from a technical point of view very unique – the Tower oscillations are eliminated with special pendulums inside the structure, which consists of 3 cylindrical steel tubes and 9 cabins. In these tubes there are situated three cabins, the first at a height of 66 meters, the next one is the Observation cabin at a height of 93 meters and the highest located is the broadcast technology cabin.
You can go up to the Observatory at 93m for about 250czk, but we decided it’s not worth it this time. Plus, you can get great – and free! – views of Prague from Vítkov hill, where the Žižka monument is located, and Petřín hill (see below).
However, I think the TV Tower is quite majestic, and it is genuinely interesting to look at – and as it’s quite futuristic-looking, it reminds me of the Jetsons, a 60s Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Don’t miss David Černý’s famous bar-code babies crawling up the sides! (You can see their faint impressions in these photos.)
You can also find the bar-code babies just after you walk over Charles Bridge into Malá Strana (Lesser Town, Prague 5)… close enough to touch… if you’d want to do that. They are creepy. Here’s a picture from my first Prague visit in 2014!
By the way, if you feel like getting a haircut on your way to or from the Tower, you can try stopping by here:
“Blond… James Blond.”
Early the next morning we started our day with a short hike to the hill and monument, which is the third largest equestrian statue in the world!
No… not this one.
From Žižkov, you go towards the tunnel that leads to Karlín, and take the path up and to the left of the tunnel:
Stop for a quick picture as you’re going up, and capture the TV Tower yet agaaaain:
And when you reach the top of the hill about 10 minutes later, stand under Žižka’s statue and admire the terror he must have inspired in his enemies:
Czech general and Hussite leader, follower of Jan Hus, was born in the small village of Trocnov (now part of Borovany) in the Kingdom of Bohemia, into an aristocratic family. He was nicknamed “One-eyed Žižka.”
Later he played a prominent role in the civil wars in Bohemia during the reign of Wenceslas IV. Žižka’s tactics were unorthodox and innovative.
Žižka is considered to be among the greatest military leaders and innovators of all time and is one of several commanders in history who never lost a battle.
He also fought a battle on Vítkov hill, one of the reasons why he is immortalized here in front of a museum about Czech history.
If you need a coffee break after that, go back the path and go through the tunnel this time…
“Neboj” = “Don’t be afraid”
And find your way to Můj šálek kávy. Although the prices are steep, it’s my favorite Prague café. They make amazing pancakes, a variety of delicious cakes, and they are serious about coffee. Choose the filtered coffee (55-70czk) and you can really taste the flavors they claim are in the beans (vanilla, blackberry, orange zest, caramel…). Ondra, who is not generally a coffee person, got the Espresso Tonic drink (80czk) – literally espresso and tonic, which is so cool to watch as the espresso filters its way into the tonic at the bottom. Plus we shared a delicious slice of currant and pistachio cake.
Petřín (or Lovers’) Hill
Petřín Hill is located on the left bank of the Vltava River, right next to Malá Strana, and so very accessible from a normal day of sightseeing in the center of Prague. If you don’t feel like walking or picnicking, you can take the funicular up to the top (it comes every 10min and takes 5min) with a normal public transport ticket (24czk) and go up the Observation Tower, which is about 150-250czk depending on what kind of ticket you buy.
Built as a mini version of Paris’s Eiffel Tower, the Petrin Observation Tower was built in 1891 for the Jubilee Exhibition.
The tower is 60m tall, which doesn’t seem particularly high until you add in the fact that it sits at the summit of Petrin Hill, which is 318m (1043 feet) high.
Climb the 299 steps to reach the top of the tower and the view over Prague is magnificent. On a clear day it is possible to see the highest peak in the Czech Republic, Snezka, which is 150km away.
Bring some wine, bring some sandwiches, and bask in the grass with other picnickers, or wander around the beautiful gardens at the top of the hill.
After that, you’re gonna need some ice cream. (Trust me.) And the best place to get that in Prague is Angelato’s. There’s a branch near Old Town Square, but the better one is just under Petřín, a few hundred meters from the entrance to the funicular.
I love Angelato’s because not only do they have unconventional flavors, you can taste the quality of the cream. The gelato itself is so creamy and yet somehow fluffy. It’s perfect.
Ondra has stracciatella, and I have sea-salt caramel and olive oil &basil. (Sounds weird, but was delicious.)
I love the way they decorate this shop with colorful paper birds. As if you needed a reason other than the perfectly light gelato to lift off the ground and fly away…
Just look at all those cones!