The Powder Tower has a rich a colorful history dating back to the 14th century. It was originally one of 25 towers which formed the Sand Gate fortification in the middle ages. These towers were built just in front of the entrance to the Old Town and were used in the defense of Prague. It is also built on the 11th century site of one of the original thirteen city gates of Prague.
The tower was significant to the rulers of Bohemia as it was from here they started their coronation walk towards Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. It is one of only two structures left of the original fortifications, the other being the Old Town Bridge Tower built about one hundred years before the Powder Tower.
The Tower's construction began in 1475 under the reign of King Vladislav II, though the building was delayed due to rioting in the city between 1477 and 1485. One of the highlights of its design is the beautiful sculptures used in its decoration. In 1592, a spiral staircase consisting of 186 stairs was added.
It has undergone several name changes throughout its history including Sand Tower, Horska Tower, New Tower and finally Powder Tower. It was renamed Powder Tower because, during the 17th century, it functioned as a gunpowder store.
It has come under numerous attacks from invading forces throughout its history and was extensively damaged during the Prussian War in 1757. Many of its fine decorative sculptures were destroyed or removed. In the late 1800s, under the guidance of architect Josef Mocker, it was restored using Gothic influences. It finally underwent extensive restorations in the 1990s.
The tower is 65 meters high and scenic views of Prague are available from the top. Today it is used for a permanent exhibition detailing the history of the tower. Visitors can view a wide collection of sculptures and art works including statues of the Bohemian Kings, their patrons and saints.
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