The Powder Tower (Prasna Brana) is one of the towers that was originally part of the Old Town walls, which were protecting the centre of Prague. The tower was build to impress visitors and travellers entering the main city from the outer parts of Prague (New Town).
Today, it’s one of the iconic towers of Prague that’s frequently visited and photographed towers in city.
Insider top tips
- Visit early in the morning, when the sun (light) is shining on the centre of Prague & Castle Hill for easy to take photos without too many shadows
- Visit just before closing time for sunset over the Prague Castle Hill, but bear in mind that if the light is strong or there are clouds the view will be quite dark and you might not get as nice photos as you’d hoped for (check the light/clouds situation before you buy your ticket).
- Great views and great for taking photos of the town, but not very suitable for taking pretty selfies or people pictures (with the view of the town) as there is fairly restrictive railing and walls to keep you safe as you walk around the top of the tower.
The previous gates before Powder Tower
The original build of the Powder Tower wasn’t a straightforward one. The work originally began in 1475. At the time the city walls started to become less and less important as the centre of Prague grew, and the walls were often used to build more houses or completely taken down.
The Powder Tower was built close to an even older tower – originally a gate of St Ambrosius, later ‘Horska Gate’ – The Mountain Gate (not because of mountains, but because it stud on the way where you would leave the town to travel to Kutna Hora town).
The ‘Horska Gate’ was apparently getting very shabby with stone falling down and crumbling, so much so, that it was nick-named ‘Odrbana’ ‘The Scruffy One’. Once the Powder Tower was built, the older tower was eventually taken down.
Built as a gift for a king
The Powder Tower was built by the Old Town of Prague Council as a coronation gift to king Vladislav II by architect and builder Matyas Rejsek from Prostejov.
The King lived right next door to the future Powder Tower in the King’s Palace, which stood where the Municipal House (Obecni Dum) is now.
This is where originally the future kings would start their journey through the town to the cathedral on top of the hill to be coronated. And this is why today, most tourists take the same walk, but without realising why you start the journey opposite a modern building of a bank and next to a 19 century restaurant!
Started but not finished properly
The work on the tower started in 1475, but soon after that the King had to leave the town to protect other areas of Bohemia Kingdom against riots and the council lost motivation in completing the tower.
The King Vladislav returned back to Prague briefly in 1483, but decided to stay at Prague Castle instead of his old King’s Castle. Later he even chose Budapest as his main residency, so the Old Town Council probably felt a bit peeved and didn’t see the reason to complete the tower whatsoever!
The tower, at the time about 44 metres high, was hastily roofed over with temporary material and at one point the council even thought about pulling it down.
How Powder Tower got it’s name
From the middle of 18 century, the tower was used as a storage for gun powder. This is the reason, why the tower is now called ‘Powder Tower’ (until the mid 18 Century it was called the ‘New Tower’).
During the Prussian wars when Prague was under siege the tower got badly damaged in 1757 and by 1799 any remaining sculptures that decorated the tower were removed.
The pseudo-gothical style re-built of the Powder Tower
Another 80 years went by before work on the tower began again and the tower was rebuilt in pseudo-gothical style in 1878 by architect Josef Mocker.
This time round the work on the tower was actually finished within 8 years.
The architect was inspired by the Old Town Bridge Tower and added more sculptures, and changed the roof (with the addition of roof spiers).
The original height of 44 metres is where the viewing platforms are today, but the whole tower is 65 metres tall.
What to see in the Powder Tower
Once you walk up the first set of (very narrow and quite steep steps) you’ll find the first floor with some explanation panels in a room with a large glass stained windows.
The next floor includes few extra history panels from the tower history and then you’ll head up to the top floor (seeing the top of the tower cealing and few preserved sculptures) and out to walk around the tower itself.
The walkway is quite narrow, suitable for one person only, but there are four mini towers where you can stop and let people pass.
You can see a lot of the centre of Prague from the tower, but with some monuments you’ll only see the top, so it’s quite fun trying to work out what’s what. Whilst most people will head towards the Prague Castle side, the other side is interesting too.
You’ll see the National Museum on the top of the Wenceslas Square, the Main Train Station old building peaking from behind other buildings and the Zizkov Tower and the Vitkov Hill.
On the other side you’ll recognise Prague Castle, tops of the churches from the Old Town Square, the Petrin Hill with it’s Hunger Wall and the Petrin and Kinsky Park.
Where is Powder Tower
Namesti Republiky (The Republic Square) – The Old Town – Prague 1
How to get there
The nearest underground is the Republic Square (Namesti Republiky) on line B (yellow) and you can also get to the same stop by trams 15, 6, 8.
Adults: 150 KCZ, Students, Over 60s, Discount Card, including public transport monthly or yearly ticket (Litacka) holders etc 135 KCZ, Children under 3, FREE
You can get reduced entry fee to all the major towers across Prague, including Petrin Tower and Charles Bridge Tower.
There is 50% discount when you visit in the first hour, when the tower opens – between 10-11 am, which I think it’s a great idea!
The ticket office is just outside the entrance to the tower, so buy your tickets there first and then walk to the first floor where one of the staff will scan your ticket.
Winter time – 10 am – 6 pm
Summer time – 9 am – 9 pm
Open every day including Monday’s
How long to allocate for your visit
I think you only need about 30 min to 45 minutes maximum. Each floor includes one historic panel (in Czech and English), which has a very brief information about the tower. Honestly, if you’ve just read my deep dive into the Powder Tower history, you already know more, than what you learn reading the panels at the tower.
The most time you’ll spend is on the top of the tower, trying to find a decent enough gap to take good photos and to look at Prague of course!
Best season or time to visit
You’ll get a great view of Prague any season, whether it’s summer or winter. What’s probably more important is that you check the weather & sky before you buy your ticket and climb the stairs. Even during a cold Prague winter weather, the sky could be bright and the light will look great on the top of the roofs.
You will want to choose a clear day, preferably sunny and with some clouds if you want to take some interesting photos.
I visited in mid July, between 6.30-8 pm and as you can see from the photos I slightly struggled with the light. It was getting a little bit too over cast and the sun and clouds were making the sky very dark.
Because the sun is setting behind the Prague Castle, I was taking pictures against (into) the light, which probably wasn’t a great idea, but I didn’t have any other option.
Next time I’ll probably visit during the day or earlier in the morning, when the sun is on the other side of the tower lighting directly the Prague Castle hill.
There are no facilities (toilet, left luggage or refreshments) at the Powder Tower, but there are plenty of cafes, shops and public facilities in the near by streets.
The tower viewing platforms are reached by 186 steps, which are often very steep and slightly uneven. There are a few passing areas (mainly two different floors with explanation panels), but it’s very difficult to pass people on the actual steps.
Unfortunately, there is no lift and no other access to the top of the tower or to the exhibition panels.
STAY IN TOUCH
Hope this blog post inspires you and as ever I’d love to what you think! Let me know in the comments below or catch up with me over on Instagram.