Petřín hill: A funicular, panoramic views and a rose garden
You can't miss it just south of Prague Castle on Prague's skyline - what looks like a smaller version of the Eiffel Tower. In fact, it is Prague's very own lookout tower, situated on the top of Petřín hill. A climb to the top offers breathtaking views, but Petřín also has many other attractions.
The lookout tower dates from 1891 and was built as part of the Prague Centennnial Exhibition - an industrial fair marking the 100th anniversary of the crowning of Leopold II as the King of Bohemia. At 68.5 meters, it is a 1:5 scale model of its more famous Parisian cousin. Next to the lookout tower, there is a small mirror maze that is a big hit with children. Inside, there is also a panoramic painting of Prague's defense against the Swedes during the Thirty Years' War.
A great way to reach the top of the hill is by funicular from Ujezd street in Prague's Lesser Town. Right by the funicular stop at the top of the hill is the Štefaník Observatory, which offers stargazing at night and also has a planetarium. Also near the funicular stop is a rose garden, where lovers can sit and relax amidst the colorful blossoms.
If you decide to walk up the hill towards the lookout tower, an especially beautiful time of year is spring, when the cherry trees are in blossom. You can also encounter parts of an old medieval wall, knows as the Hunger Wall. It was built during the time of Emperor Charles IV. The wall formed part of the city's defenses, but got its name during a 1361 famine, when construction on the wall provided work for the city's poor.
Finally, there are two special days on which to come to Petřín - one right after the other. The first is April 30 - Witches' Night, when Czechs traditionally gather around bonfires. Petřín is one of place in Prague where you can encounter one of the large witch-burning blazes. The other special day is May 1. No, not because of International Workers' Day. On this day, Petřín becomes the hill of lovers. Couples of all ages gather under the blossoming cherry trees, young people come for picnics, and there are public poetry readings. Why poetry and lovers? The day is dedicated to the great Czech poet Karel Hynek Mácha, whose poem of tragic love Máj (May) is considered the epitome of Czech romantic poetry. The statue of Mácha on Petřín hill is covered in flowers and wreaths.