Zizkov TV Tower Prague : World’s 2nd Ugliest Building?
Zizkov TV Tower Prague – there is something amazing about viewing cities from a high vantage point, and the view from the Zizkov TV Tower in Prague is no exception. Rooftop observation decks, looking out the windows high up inside a skyscraper, or even climbing a conveniently located hill or mountain, I tend to seek out elevated vantage points in every place I visit.
Normally, these vantage points are chock-full-o-tourists, understandably so, as these sorts of opportunities give you spectacular vistas and photo opportunities, and also an instant appreciation for the “lay of the land”, Not so in Zizkov.
Zizkov Tower in Prague is an Unknown Tourist Attraction
Meanwhile, down below, in the distance, more tourists than are imaginable, are shoulder to shoulder outside the more well-known tourist attractions in this truly fairy-tale city. With a personal bent for loftier views, as well as a love of soviet-era architecture, it was a given that Prague’s infamous and controversial tower would be on the day’s agenda.
Zizko TV Tower stands atop a hill in the Prague district of Zizkov. The “unique” Zizkov Tower was constructed over a period of seven years between 1985 and 1992. Architecturally brutal and high-tech, with a height of 216 metres (709 feet), the Zizkov TV Tower dominates the Prague skyline.
Conceived before the “Velvet Revolution”, and rumoured to have been used to jam incoming western radio and television transmissions, Zizkov tower has a history of being unloved by Prague’s locals, although, public opinion seems to be changing. Currently, most tourist maps and guides of Prague’s attractions don’t include the tower – an indication of the pride, or lack of, that the locals hold for this out-of-place and imposing edifice. The citizens of Prague are not alone, – Zizkov TV Tower was once voted the “2nd Ugliest Building”, on Earth.
Prague artist David Cerny designed the “crawling baby” sculptures as a temporary installation. Initially installed in the year 2000, a year later, the millennium babies became a permanent fixture of the TV tower, primarily due to positive public opinion. The babies do lend a softening to the imposing lines of the tower, which could be a good or bad thing dependent upon where your sympathies for his type of architecture lie.
With or without the babies, Zizkov Tower is pure, soviet-era Prague, architectural icon-ism. Personally, I would have left the tower in it’s brutal soviet-era livery. However, they are face-less babies, so it’s an appropriate compromise – somewhere between kitsch and terror.
A series of observation pods allow a 360 degree view of Prague. Binoculars are installed, and you can move freely between the capsule like enclosures. Formerly, a cafe/restaurant operated in the lower set of pods, but this had been closed when we visited. I’m not certain when/if the restaurant is re-opening.
Enjoy the view.
click to see an interactive map showing the location of this article
click to see an interactive map showing the location of this article
Information for Zizkov TV Tower in Prague
Address : Mahlerovy sady 1, Prague 3
How to get there : 5-minute walk from the Jiriho z Podebrad metro station (line “A”)
17 thoughts on “Zizkov TV Tower Prague : World’s 2nd Ugliest Building?”
It’s weird that I don’t recall seeing that tower on any of my 3 trips to Prague. I must have blocked it from my memory! I’m going to go up it next time though. The views look amazing.
Ha! Totally worth it for the views, Andrea, no matter what you think of the architecture. ;)
When I read this post actually I was holding an old Lonely Planet magazine with an article about Prague which has the same picture of the tower. Interesting!!!
Hi Bama (cool name btw!) …do you mean the last photo in the series? What a coincidence, I bet that photo must have done the rounds! If it was one of the others, then Lonely Planet, show me the money ;)
I would like to make an apartment for myself in one of those pods. Have a strange fascination with Soviet-era anything so definitely not voting this as 2nd or even 100th ugliest.
P.S. The babies make it creepy (at least from where I am sitting)
P.P.S. I love YOUR name-Yomadic. Yo is one of my favorite words in the English language so I love that you incorporated it.
haha …classic…looked at this old post today and realised I never replied to you…ONE YEAR LATER… HI LARISSA!
I love the Babies!
But you are right, the Tower is a blight on this pretty city! Although there is a church building very close the the Tower which I thought was even uglier!
I know the church you are talking about…I thought it was a cool looking church…
But, each to their own ;) I have a tendency to like “ugly” buildings!
I was actually in Prague when the TV tower was still being built, just after the Velvet Revolution. No one really said much about it at the time as the words in everyone’s lips were “We’re free!”.
Yeah, true that the tower is not exactly in keeping with other Prague landmarks, but Prague itself has come a long way in putzing up the city since the 80s. Back then, all the buildings were a dusty old gray and very neglected. Go to Prague now and the Old Town is bursting with colour.
So . . . maybe the Zizkov tower can be excused. :-)
Personally, I like the Petrin / Strahov Tower, up on the hill near the stadium. Looks like the Eiffel Tower and also has beautiful views.
Thanks for the comment, Hana.
What an amazing time to be in Prague, at the time of the revolution! ..and yes, Prague Old Town is a very beautiful place, with a huge variety of architecture. I’m a big fan.
In my opinion, Zizkov TV Tower doesn’t need to be excused, I love it.
I didn’t get to the Petrin Tower, hopefully next time.
Also, just checked out your website, you’re inspiring!
Hey, thanks for the nice comment, Nate. Really like your blog too. :-)
One reason why this post interested me so much is because I’m actually originally Czech (didn’t grow up there though). As soon as the Berlin Wall started coming down, I headed over to Prague to look for a job as I knew they would need English teachers — and I just happen to be one!
Yes, it was an amazing time to be there but tough, to be honest, as the infrastructure and economy took a while to catch up. Believe it or not, Peace Corps volunteers were working in Prague in ’90!
Anyway, glad I came across your blog and look forward to reading more about all the cool paces you’ve been. :-)
Cheers! I think it would have been one of those “once in a lifetime” periods of time in the Czech Republic. I have a *lot* more posts in the pipeline, this is a new blog and I’m trying to get up-to-date before new travels commence (however, it looks like I will be travelling again in the next few days!).
I lived in Vinohrady – the area between Wenceslas Square and the tower – from 1992 – 97, and still visit regularly. For reasons having more to do with my distrust of communist building standards, I’ve never once had the urge to go up in that tower.
This monster is really not a pride nor of the city nor local people.
From the other side followed megapano of the city could not be created without it :
If it was in my city, I’d be really happy.
Love it. Buildings so tight in old town you just dont see it. The babies are a bit creepy I rekon.
i should say it’s the second prettiest building on earth