The Žižkov TV Tower is the tallest building in Prague; its conspicuous silhouette is visible from all over the city. The tower, which boasts an observatory and restaurant, is one of only a few modern landmarks in this otherwise fairy-tale city.
The tower is not exactly known for its good looks, in fact, the official website even boasts it was voted the ‘second-ugliest building in the Czech Republic’.
Plans for the tower were made as early as in 1974 to improve TV- and radio signals. It is rumored that the tower was also built to jam Western television transmissions. Construction only started in 1985 to a design created by the Czech architect Václav Aulický with help from two engineers: Jiří Kozák and Alex Bern. The tower became operational six years later, in 1991, and was completed the following year.
The TV Tower
The steel tower was designed in the High-tech architecture style and looks like a group of pods attached to three tall stilts, the tallest of which ends in an antenna that soars to a height of 216 meters (709 ft). The three lowest of the nine pods are at a height of 66 meters and contain the restaurant. The next three pods contain the observatory, at a height of 93 meters. Just above these are the pods that contain broadcasting equipment.
The tower was quite advanced for its time. A unique system devised of a series of pendulums was created to dampen the swaying of the building.
From afar the tower looks rather unattractive due to its tall stilts, and, like many Soviet-era buildings, it has often been criticized for its appearance.
The Crawling Babies
Up close however, the tower looks much more interesting, all the more so because of the ‘miminka’ (babies) that crawl up and down the tower. The ten faceless babies were created by the controversial Czech artist David Černý and were installed on the tower in 2000 on the occasion of the new millennium.
The intention was to keep the statues only temporarily, but soon after they were removed it was decided to reinstall them, this time permanently, due to the praise they got from the public.
An elevator brings visitors to the observatory, at a height of 93 meters (305 ft.). This may not sound like it’s very high up, but thanks to the tower’s elevated location, the observatory offers a 360 degree panoramic view over the city. The views are even better at night, when Prague looks at its most magical.