While all celebrations in Prague for St Patrick’s Day on March 17 have been canceled or postponed, one will still occur. The Petřín Tower will again be lit in green.
“For special lighting, the Petřín Tower is equipped with a modern system of 40 LED lighting banks. Thanks to this we can use this Prague landmark in Malá Strana as a symbol of light and thus draw attention to important anniversaries or world events. Last year, for example, we lit it up in the state colors of the Czech Republic for the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution or in the French tricolor to express solidarity with France after the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral,” City Councilor Jan Chabr said. Normally, the tower is lit in white.
Tomáš Jílek, board chairman of the city firm Technologie hlavního města Prahy (THMP), said the that the special lighting for St Patrick’s Day is the first for this year. “People drink green beer on this holiday day, eat green food or wear green clothes. We are joining the worldwide celebrations of Ireland’s patron St. Patrick with the green light of the lookout tower,” Jílek said, adding that this year Petřín will shine in color on World Autism Understanding Day on April 2), International Day of Light on May 16, and Multiple Sclerosis Day on May 27.
Each LED light on the Petřín Tower has two parts. There are white sources in one half and red-green-blue (RGB) diodes in the other. This allows for the colors intensity to change continuously.
“In the first half of this year, we plan to supplement the tower’s communication with our control room. We will be able to remotely diagnose individual lights and react in case of their failure. Moreover, it will enable our technicians to change the color composition of the lookout tower directly from a control board,” Jílek said.
The Petřín Tower is the only one of Prague’s monuments to be lit all night. “Because it is located outside the residential area, its lighting does not disturb anyone. We also emphasize that lighting the lookout tower does not cause excessive light smog. Therefore, flashing lights or various more complicated effects are not used too much during the ceremonial lighting, even though the technology allows it,” Chabr said.
The 63.5-meter-tall tower on top of Petřín Hill since 2015 has been equipped with the 40 LED bank spread out on four levels. It had been lit in colors previously, but the special colors had to be installed and operated manually, with someone going to the tower to operate them. The new system can be operated remotely.
The Petřín Tower (Petřínská rozhledna), sometimes called the Little Eiffel Tower, opened to the public on Aug. 20, 1891. The idea to build the tower was launched in 1889 by members of the Club of Czech Tourists who had visited the Exposition Universelle in Paris, where they saw the actual Eiffel Tower.
In 1889, the tourist club members set out to raise money from the public and get permission from the city to build the tower in time for the 1891 General Land Centennial Exhibition, which also saw the construction of new buildings at Výstaviště in Holešovice. The funicular in Petřín was built at the same time.
The foundation reaches 11 meters below ground, and overall some 175 tons of steel was used. Inside there were 299 steps and a gas-powered elevator. Originally the tower had a copy of the Czech crown on top. The tower top was damaged by fire in July 1938. In 1953 it became a TV tower and antennas were installed. It remained a TV tower until the Žižkov Tower started operation in 1992. The tower was fully renovated in 1999.
The tower actually has little in common with its Parisian namesake. The Prague tower has an eight-sided base, while the Paris one is on a square base. The Prague version is also smaller, just 63.5 meters tall compared to 324 meters for the original. Petřín Hill, though, rises to 318 meters, so the height of the observation decks of both above the respective city’s basic ground level is comparable.