Having a penchant for bird’s eye and panoramic views of cities, I always make it a point to look for an elevated place to observe the entire expanse of just about any place I visit. More often, there are observation decks or hills bordering the cities that offer quite spectacular views without having to break the bank. In Prague, the Petrin Hill is a promising venue for an almost 270 degree view of the city and its hundred-spire skyline. It wasn’t actually part of my plan but I have a few hours to spare before my trip to Brno so I immediately hopped on a tram to Ujezd in the Mala Strana district by the foot of the hill. Normally, I wouldn’t mind a steep climb but since I’m pressed with time, I went all touristy and crammed the funicular with the rest of the lazy tourists for a lift to the hilltop. Yes, it’s a shame I know but the old rickety ride still does have a historic feel.
At the top is a landscaped garden and observatory complex dominated by the Eiffel tower’s little Czech brother, the Petrin Tower standing at just 60m, which is quite tiny for a tower but since it is on elevated ground, it is tall enough to view the entire city. Tower entry charges around 2€ which isn’t bad. It’s another 300 steps to the top but once there, spectacular views await. I was not lucky with the weather (it was a freezing late autumn after all) so the view was a bit somber but it was breathtaking nonetheless. Also, it was literally breathtaking after trudging those heavy steps.
There are also a few sights in the complex. Aside from the garden, there is a small church, an observatory, and a mirror labyrinth. I don’t know why I picked the mirror maze because it was entirely childish but yeah, who doesn’t love optical illusions?
All in all, I recommend you to visit the hill. I cannot vouch for the climb up sans funicular but it could be amazing if you have some time to kill and still want to do something healthy while travelling. But maybe you should go when the skies are clear. By then, a hundred spires would be evident and unencumbered by some winter fog because just to see the crowded but colorful spread of this city is quite amazing. It makes you feel a sense of magnitude and your own little space relative to the world out there.