Zizkov TV Tower celebrates its 15th anniversary

Zizkov TV Tower

One of the most controversial buildings in Prague, the futuristic Zizkov TV Tower, is this week celebrating its 15th anniversary. Long before that date, many people in Prague opposed the idea of such a tall and out-of-place building being erected in a largely residential area. But 15 years later, it now seems that Praguers are slowly but surely getting used to it.

Zizkov TV Tower
Construction began on the Zizkov TV Tower in 1985. But even before work began, the futuristic 216-m tower was a source of controversy. There were debates among architects, environmentalists and, above all, citizens about the aesthetics of the building. There was also a question mark over possible health risks, until tests showed the level of radiation was not harmful.

Even so, the building has never been very popular among locals. There are still many inhabitants of Zizkov who have never been in the tower, its restaurant, café, and look-out cabins. Among them this retired woman out walking her dog.

"I've already grown accustomed to the tower. I was born in Zizkov and have been living here all my life. I remember the good old days when there was a Jewish cemetery here instead of the Tower. It was a place where there grew wild flowers and berries. As a child, I often played with other children near this place, behind the old city walls. It was annoying to see the Communists destroy all this, and I felt very sorry for the park."

But this old lady says there is one advantage of living near Prague's TV tower.

"The TV reception here is very good. I have an old Russian television at home, a Yunos, and it only has a very small, round antenna. I've had it for years, and when the tower was built the reception improved substantially, the picture is now perfect. So, there is at least one thing that the TV tower is good for!"

Klara Filipova manages the tower's restaurant and café, 66 metres above the ground. She says the attitude of the locals towards the building is getting more and more positive.

"I think that by now it has become quite popular, it's definitely more popular that at the beginning."

Do any of the locals come here regularly?

"Yes, they come here for a coffee or dinner, and they also organize meetings and seminars in the tower."

Before the fall of Communism some thought that it was built mainly to jam the airwaves of Radio Free Europe and other foreign radio stations. The perception of the Zizkov TV tower slightly improved in the year 2000, when plastic sculptures of babies by artist David Cerny were affixed to it. The popular figures were taken down but were returned due to public demand.