Tourists who came to Prague in the last two years may have been disappointed to find one of the most prominent monuments closed for visitors. The steel lookout tower on Petrin Hill was under reconstruction. First built 111 years ago for the Czech Jubilee Exhibition, the Czech version of the famous Eiffel Tower is offering a magnificent view of Prague once again. Pavla Horakova reports.
The Petrin lookout tower is difficult to miss on the Prague skyline. Its builders were indeed inspired by the Eiffel Tower: in 1889 a group of Czechs travelled to the World Exhibition in Paris and greatly admired the brand new and spectacular steel construction. They wished Prague had a tower like that too, and - believe it or not - they managed to collect enough money to raise the 60-metre high replica only two years later.
Since the 1950's, the tower was also used for TV broadcasting. But during the reconstruction all the equipment has been removed and the tower got back its original lift, so visitors don't have to climb all the 300 steps if they don't feel up to it.
Vaclav Novotny is the director of Prague Information Service which runs the tower. I asked him about all the new things the tower has to offer to visitors now and also about some facilities which it severely lacked before the reconstruction...
"The tower was under reconstruction for two years. The lift is new as well as the exhibition and the possibility to see Prague not just from 60 metres but from 20 metres as well. On the 20-metre level, a picture with a historical view of Prague 100 years ago, so one can compare Prague 100 years ago and now. There are new toilets now - free of charge - which is not usual in Prague. We are opening a little buffet and a souvenir shop."
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