If you want to escape the centre of Prague for a bit, then Vitkov Hill is the perfect place to go. The top of the hill has panoramic views of the whole city of Prague and the history of the hill is pretty interesting too. The Vitkov Hill is famous for its large statue of the Czech military leader, Jan Žižka, the National Memorial and the walking, cycling and running paths around it.
In this blog post, I wanted to share with you my favourite things about the Vitkov Hill, including practical information on how to get there, what you can expect to see and, of course a little bit about the history.
What is Vitkov Hill?
Vitkov Hill is visible from most parts of the central Prague and you will probably recognise it because of the giant man on a horse statue – Jan Zizka. The hill is about 270 meters above sea level at its highest point and separates the Prague districts Karlín and Žižkov.
Is Vitkov Hill worth visiting?
I’ve been to Vitkov Hill many times, but only recently visited the newly re-opened National Monument. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that I’ve enjoyed it more than I thought I would!
Vitkov Hills is perfect if you are looking for a quiet place to watch the sunset, walk around and enjoy the laid back Zizkov at the bottom of the hill. If you are into history and architecture, you’ll enjoy visiting the National Monument, which has an intriguing history, and it’s both poignant and a bit creepy inside. The view from the top of the Monument is also very special.
How to avoid crowds at Vitkov Hill
The best thing about the Vitkov Hill and visiting the National Monument is that there are hardly any people there!
The National Monument is often visited by organised school trips, which happened whilst I went last time, but the museum attendant lady immediately sent us to start in a different part of the building, and once the school finished their part, we swapped!
The building is so huge that you are more likely to wander inside on your own than not!
The Vitkov Hill is a popular Prague park with the locals who come here to walk, run or just sit, so there is always somebody about, but again it’s not as busy as Petrin Hill or Letna Park by any means and it’s very easy to avoid large crowds there.
History of Vitkov Hill
During the reign of king Charles IV in 15th century, vineyards began to be planted on the slopes of the hill. The majority of these vineyards were owned by Prague councillor Vítek z Hory, which is why the hill is called ‘Vitkov’ Hill.
On July 14, 1420, Hussite troops led by Jan Žižka defeated the Crusader’s troops here, and since then, the area next to the hill has been called Žižkov.
During the next few centuries, the vineyards became neglected so much so, that the city decided in 1890s to transform the undeveloped hill into a city park. However, World War I interrupted these plans.
The park underwent major renovations during the construction of the National Memorial, which began in 1929. The top of the hill is purposely flat and there are only low types of shrubs planted around the memorial, while the slopes of the entire hill are covered with trees, which makes the hill look like a monumental green pedestal for the Memorial Building.
The bronze equestrian statue of Jan Žižka dominates the entire hill and is one of the ten largest equestrian statues in the world.
The statue of Jan Zizka is one of the top ten largest statues of horse and a man in the whole world.
The body of President Klement Gottwald was displayed in the monument from 1953 – 1962, when it was decided that the running of the whole project was too expensive and Gottwald’s body was cremated. After 1989 the urn wasn’t claimed by the family, so the Communist party used a shared grave at Olsanske Cemetary as the last resting place for the president’s ashes.
The National Memorial
The memorial building was built between 1929-1938 originally to be used as a memorial for legionaries who helped to establish the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918.
During the German occupation years of 1939-1945, it served as a military storage facility.
When the infamous Czech president Klement Gottwald died in 1953 the government decided that the Vitkov Hill Memorial would be used as Gottwald’s mausoleum and also as a burial place for important personalities of the former regime.
The memorial is now a museum of modern history with a multimedia exhibition called Crossroads of Czech and Czechoslovak Republic. It’s a very informative exhibition and the descriptions are both in Czech and English Language.
There are many things on display there, for example, the last letters of Milada Horáková and Heliodor Píka from prison, personal items associated with Jan Palach, chess pieces made of bread by imprisoned Milan Šimečka, and the typewriter of novelist Pavel Tigrid.
My great-grandfather was one of the Italian Legionaries and it was great to see a model of their group-specific uniform and hat. It also felt strange (and very moving) to see the medals displayed there knowing that my great-grandfather had been given those too.
You will be also able to see the Red Army Hall where Gotwald’s body was displayed, as well as the laboratory underneath. Looking after the mummified body of the president was a full-time job for about 100 people, including doctors who had to monitor the body every day, soldiers who guarded the entry to the memorial 24/7 and ladies who had specialist training in clinical cleaning.
Don’t miss the views from the top of the National Monument – they are truly breathtaking! Unlike other places, there are no glass barriers, which means you can take great photos and videos without any glare.
If you don’t want to see the monument inside, you can purchase ticket for the viewing floor only (about 50-80 CZK).
If you are on a very tight budget, walk up to the cafe floor (which is free to enter via the main entrance) and check out the views from there (it’s mainly all the views of Prague away from the centre, but it’s pretty cool too!)
Best time to visit
The Vitkov Hill is great at any time of the day, but especially great at sunset, when you can sit under the statue of Jan Zizka and watch the sun getting down behind the Prague Castle and the Petrin Hill Lookout Tower in the distance.
If you want to visit the National Monument exhibition inside, the building is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so that’s something to bear in mind too.
How much time do I need to visit Vitkov Hill
I happily spent about 2 hrs inside the National Monument and an extra 1 hr walking around and taking photos.
If you want to visit the National Monument inside then you’ll need about 45-60 minutes for the exhibitions (signs are translated into English), 20-30 minutes if you want to climb to the top of the monument to take some photos and an extra 20-30 min if you’d like to have a coffee in the coffee place within the monument.
Once you start walking on the top of the Vitkov Hill, you will inevitably start walking down, so make sure that you visit everything you want before you walk away! The slopes are very steep!
What to take with you to Vitkov Hill
The only suggestion I’d have here, is that if you are coming up here during your meal times, make sure that you bring sandwiches or a picnic with you. There are two places where you can get drinks and some snacks, but there is nothing else where you can have a substantial meal.
The Vitkov Hill is open all year round, every day, without any restrictions.
The National Monument is closed Monday and Tuesday and open Wednesday – Sunday 10 am – 6 pm.
The Vitkov Hill Park access is free and open all year round.
There is 120 CZK entrance fee to the National Monument on the top of the hill (80 CZK only if you want visit the viewing platform only). The cafe place is free to enter.
There is a cafe at the top of the National Monument, which is open free to public – it’s accessible through the main entrance to the building.
The cafe has outside seating and some amazing views of Prague, but you’ll be looking away from the centre of Prague.
The cafe serves mainly drinks, but also has ice-creams and crisps and biscuits. The prices are very reasonable and the cafe (when I visited) was very quiet.
There is also a beer garden at the Zizkov Football practice stadium as you walk away from the monument towards the Ohrada.
There are toilets inside the National Monument for cafe and monument visitors only.
There are no public toilets on the top of the hill, but you will find them as you approach the hill from Ohrada (from the back of the monument).
There are also toilets on the walking train path trail below the hill on the Zizkov side.
U Pamatniku 1900, Prague 3
How to get to Vitkov Hill
There are several ways to get to Vítkov Hill from the centre of Prague. There is no tram, bus or car access to the top of the hill.
The easiest way to walk up is to get off the Ohrada tram stop (5, 4, 9, 15, 19) or Ohrada bus stop (no. 133, 136, 207) and take the fairly level path, which will take you to the top and it only takes about 10 minutes.
You can also climb up the slopes of Vítkov Hill via the varied network of access paths and staircases from Husitská and Koněvova streets on the Zizkov side. This is a much shorter distance, but it’s a very steep climb.
Cyclists and pedestrians often use two tunnels that connect Žižkov and Karlín, which lead under Vítkov Hill – the Žižkov Tunnel, which leads to Tachovské náměstí, and the much longer Old Vítkov Tunnel, which was converted from the original railway into a cycle path.
Getting to Vitkov Hill from the centre of Prague
Getting to the top of Vitkov Hill from the centre of Prague will take you approximately 30-35 minutes, which will involve some walking
The simplest way to get from the centre to Vitkov Hill is to walk to the middle of Wenceslas Square, Jindrisska Ulice or to Narodni Trida (or Narodni Divadlo) and get tram number 9. The tram goes every 3-4 minutes at peak times and very frequently during the weekend too. Hop on, and in about 15-20 minutes, get off at Ohrada tram stop.
Walk across a little park in between a road and few houses. Go up few steps to a little bridge that takes you over the busy road and then just carry on walking. In the next 10 minutes you will arrive at the back of the National Monument.
To go back to the Prague centre, I usually walk down to hill, taking any path on the left hand side towards the Zizkov side (the one with the TV tower).
This will take you to a little path which runs along the bottom of the Vitkov Hill. It’s the old train line, which will take you directly to the Prague Main Train Station (you will need to cross a road at the end and take the new under passage through train station.
Whilst you are there, have a look at the old ticket office upstairs, which is now a coffee place. From the Main Train Station, you can walk straight through the park to the Jerusalemska Street, where you’ll find one of my my favourite art cinemas – Edison, and the Jubilee Synagogue. You’ll arrive at Jindrisska Street, which will take you back to Wenceslas Square.
- Using Prague public transport – Everything you need to know >>
- The complete guide to the tram network in Prague >>
- Comprehensive guide to Prague underground (Metro) >>
What else you can see and do nearby
Walk the train track path back to the Main Train Station (see my notes about how to get to Vitkov Hill)
Walk under the hill to Karlin – take any path or staircase that leads down to the Zizkov side of the hill and then take the train path walk away from the town. After few minutes, you’ll get to an opening in the houses – the area is currently being re-developed. Walk down to the street level and you’ll see the tunnel entrance to Karlin. It’s about 5-10 minutes walk going slowly down hill.
Once you are in Karlin, you can explore the main area around the Saint Cyril and Methodius Church, the Kasarna Karlin area with a coffee place in an old swimming pool, outdoor summer cinema and concerts. The Krizikova and Sokolovska Street have many independent shops, restaurants and coffee places.
This blog post was originally written on 24 May 2023 and last updated on 24 May 2023