The Czech Republic’s capital is packed with beautiful buildings, but it is the ugliest building in the world I am drawn to whenever I visit the city. The Žižkov TV Tower in the suburbs is well worth the trip from the centre for Prague’s best views, and it is now home to one of the smallest (and most expensive) hotels you will ever see.
The residential neighbourhood of Žižkov is a good half-hour walk to the east of Wenceslas Square, or you can take the underground to Jiřího z Poděbrad on the green line and get there in around five minutes.
You can’t miss the TV Tower which is the tallest building in Prague, and protrudes from the housing estates like a rocket ready for take-off.
Locals have never been big fans – it can’t be nice having a 216-metre tall monstrosity in your back garden, plus there used to be concerns about the safety of living so close to all those transmitters.
The intentions of the Communists who commissioned the tower’s construction back in the 1970s are a bit blurred. Was it built to block the evil propaganda broadcast by western TV and radio stations?
Whatever they may have been, today the tower is a tourist attraction with a bar and observation deck from which to sit back with a pint of Budvar and take in the best view in town. It’s also one of the few places in Prague that’s not over-run with tourists.
If any of my friends ever visit Prague, I always recommend a trip to the Žižkov TV Tower to them, but recently one pal came home disappointed as he said the tower was closed.
The last time I was in Prague was 2009 but, sceptical about this, I had a look on Google. In fact, the tower was closed for extensive renovations for much of 2011 and 2012, before being re-opened and re-branded as Tower Park Prague, with a new improved restaurant, observation deck and a luxury one room hotel in one of the pods, called imaginatively the One Room Hotel.
But with prices starting at 18,000 Kč per night (around £550/€650/$900), it’s one hotel I can’t see myself staying at anytime soon. There are swinging bubble chairs and telescopes in the new Observatory pod at the 93-metre level, which you can get to in a super-fast elevator for a more doable 150 Kč (around £4.50/€5.50/$7.50).
I suppose you’re wondering about those freaky giant babies crawling up the tower? “Babies” was a temporary sculpture put in place in 2000 by the Czech artist David Černý, but was so popular it returned in 2001 and is now there to stay. I’m not sure of their relevance, but the babies somehow suit this fantastically eccentric building.