As you travel around Prague, you may have wondered about the purpose of the towering high-tech structure that dominates the city skyline. This space-age construction is the Prague TV Tower (Televizní vysílač), by far Prague’s tallest building, at over 216 metres. Back in 2009, this quirky building was voted the second ugliest building of the world by VirtualTourist.com. It’s worth a visit if you have time for the fantastic views.
The design, which comprises three pillars, with pods and decks attached to them, is unusual, and although the tower looks futuristic, it was actually built between 1985 and 1992. It is said that the reasons were political: the Communists apparently wanted to jam West German television signals. They also located the tower in the famous working class district of Žižkov, a residential area on a hill, which made the tower even more prominent – and unpopular. In addition, part of an adjacent Jewish cemetery, in existence since 1787, was demolished to make way for the tower, although a small part survives. Ironically, by the time the TV tower became fully operational, the Communists were no longer in power.
In 2000, the structure has been “decorated” with giant statues of babies, which crawl up the tower like enormous flies. They are the work of controversial Czech artist David Černý. You can read more about this Czech artist in our article Who is David Cerny?
The approach to the TV tower is rather surreal, and you could almost imagine yourself in a science-fiction film as you get closer to the enormous metal-clad pillars looming over the tenements of Žižkov below. The babies climbing up the tower merely adds to the sci-fi effect. Sometimes the TV Tower is illuminated, and a few years ago it was lit up in the Czech national colours of red, white and blue, to spectacular effect.
The structure is open to the public and the viewing platforms, located 93 metres up, in one of the pods, offer superb views. Recently, the Žižkov Tower has been renovated and today it offers 360° observatory, restaurant, café and bar.