An impressive Gothic tower separating Prague’s New Town from Old Town, the Powder Tower is a sight to behold. It was our introduction to Old Town Prague once arriving via train, and it certainly set the stage for what was to come. We stayed at The Hotel Paris Prague (highly recommend), which was only approximately 430 feet from the tower (1–2-minute walk). It’s stunning, and fans of Gothic architecture will be in awe, as it’s the quintessential example of the style. Also known as the Powder Gate, it’s one of 13 original city gates surrounding Old Town.
Built in 1475 by King Vladislav II, the tower is 547 years old. It was designed to be used as one of the entrance gates to Old Town and not as a defensive tower. It was largely left unused by Czech royalty for coronation purposes until 1836, when it became the starting point of the Royal Coronation route up to St. Vitus Cathedral. It unfortunately suffered damage during the 1757 Battle of Prague, with renovations performed in 1876. The name “Powder Tower” came about in the 17th century when the tower was used to store gunpowder.
There are three levels within the tower to visit, which are accessed via a very winding, very old, and very unnerving stone staircase. Be advised – this staircase is not wide, with countless blind turns, so please be wary of others coming from the opposite direction. There are small alcoves/windows that you could technically squeeze into, if absolutely necessary, but I wouldn’t advise it. The beginning of the staircase is the most treacherous, as the steps are quite far apart and very worn. Two of the levels take you to an open room, complete with beautiful, stained-glass windows, a large information display in numerous languages, and… umm… interesting, accentuating statues…
The best (or scariest) part? You can climb the stairs to the very top and walk around the outside balcony portion. The entrance is on the last level, accessed via a rickety wooden staircase, which resembles an attic. There are a few historical artifacts up top, but the main reason to make the climb is the outside view. Here, you can see for miles. It’s quite a sight; however, if you’re like my brother or me and fear heights, it can be terrifying. We pushed past our immense fear to do a complete, 365-degree lap of the top, taking in Prague from all sides. It was well worth it, as this was a view that we could not achieve anywhere else (the airport is too far away and the view from Prague Castle is from a different, much further away angle).
Located at nám. Republiky 5, 110 00 5 110 00 Praha 1, the tower consistently opens year-round at 10am, except between June – August, when it opens at 9am. The closing hours vary widely throughout the year, depending on which month you visit, so it’s best to check the website before going: www.prague.eu/en. In my opinion, it’s rather cheap, costing 150 CZK ($6.40 USD) per adult and 350 CZK ($14.94) per “family” (the website does not state how many people are included with the “family” package). We visited the tower on a Saturday, around 4:45pm, and it was not crowded at all.
Overall, the Powder Tower of Prague is a must-visit (or at the very least, a must-see) for anyone coming to Prague. It’s a beautiful, impressively persevered example of medieval 15th-century Gothic architecture and will make any history lover fill with happiness. The view of Prague you get at the top is unmatched and well worth the climb. I would not recommend the tower to anyone with mobility issues or bad knees, as the staircase is incredibly curvy and can be hard to traverse, especially coming down. However, even if you can’t climb it, it’s still worth stopping by to view from the street and take in its magnificence. Don’t pass it up!