As you wander around Prague, you may be intrigued by what appears to be a mini version of the Eiffel Tower rising out of the trees on the wooded hill close to the Castle. It‘s known as the Eifelovka and, as its name suggests, is a mini version of the famous Paris landmark. It crowns Petřín Hill, one of Prague‘s most popular and enjoyable open spaces and within easy reach of your Prague apartment.
A favourite way to reach Petřín Hill is by the funicular railway (use public transport tickets or passes), which starts at Újezd, just off the street of the same name, in the Lesser Quarter. Try to stand at the back of the carriage so that you can enjoy superb views of the Old Town. The railway stops halfway Nebozízek, where there‘s a restaurant of the same name. It’s especially popular at dusk, when the floodlit historic centre looks amazing. If you get off there you can stroll in the orchards and enjoy the views. Or, you can continue to the top.
The funicular terminates by the Růžový sad (Rose Garden), a pleasant spot where you can prepare yourself for climbing a landmark that’s become as much a part of the Prague skyline as the Castle or Týn Church – the Eifelovka, officially known as Petřínská Rozhledna (Petřín Lookout Tower). One fifth the height of the Paris tower, the Rozhledna was built in 1889 as part of the General Land Centennial Exhibition, held in Prague in 1891, and is one of the survivors of that event.
It’s worth the climb for the fantastic panorama of the city; the views make even the nearby Castle look small. Close by is the Bludiště (Maze), built like a mock-Gothic castle. It contains a mirror maze, with concave and convex mirrors whose distortions adults and children alike will enjoy. The building also houses a diorama of a battle on Charles Bridge in 1648 when Prague’s students and Jews fought against the Swedes.
The southern slopes of Petřín, on the other side of the funicular terminus from the Rozhledna, are of interest too. Look out for a wooden church that was transported here in 1929 from the easternmost part of the then Czechoslovakia (now Ukraine). You’ll also spot the Štefaníkova hvězdárna (observatory), and look out for the statue of famous 19th-century Czech poet Karel Hynek Mácha. Every Czech learns his famous poem Máj (May), and it’s a tradition for local lovers to visit the statue on 1 May.
From Petřín, it’s a short walk to Hradčany and the Castle, along a beautiful path that passes under below the towers of Strahov Monastery. The historic centre opens up in front of you, with Hradčany to the left and the Old Town below. The path joins Úvoz street at the superbly situated Swedish Embassy, where you’ll enjoy one of the most memorable views of Prague. This spot is particularly recommended on a brilliantly clear winter day, especially if Prague is covered in snow.