History of Petrin Hill in Prague

Petrin Hill

One of the most popular tourist targets of Prague is a hill in the very centre called Petřín. It is an important hill offering not just the view of the whole city but it is also located close to the Prague Castle. Petřín is full of attractions and sights. Today we will focus only on its history.

All about: Petrin Hill

The name Petrin - Petřínská rozhledna (eng:Petrin Tower)
The hill know as Petřín used to have several other names in the past. First it was called Hora (Mountain), Kopec (Hill) or St. Lawrence Hill according to the church on its top. The name Petřín was derived from the mountainous surface of the hill. There used to be so-called Petřín quarries and due to the many rocks („petrae“ in Latin) it was later called Petřín.

Romanesque period petrin_piskovcove-skaly_110312_001
The first quarries started to occur in the Petřín territory In the Romanesque period. The stone called opuka (aranaceous marlstone) was later used as building material for a great number of Prague houses. Before opuka started to be mined here Petřín had been completely covered by trees. There used to be a significant gallows close to the the present St. Lawrence Church in the past. Not just common criminals were executed here but even people convicted for political reasons. When the representatives of the Přemyslid dynasty massacred the Slavníkovec family in Libice in 995, they slaughtered some of them right on the Petřín gallows. After the Hunger Wall had been built in the Gothic period this place of execution was cancelled. The executions took place behind the town fortifications or on Šibeniční vrch (Gallows Hill).

When the Hunger Wall was finished based on the command of Charles IV some handicraftsmen had to move to its neighbourhood. These handicrafts were basically very disturbing for other people – blacksmiths, kettlesmith, coopers and many more. During this period extensive vineyards were founded on Petřín.

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Renaissance Petrin - Mirror Maze
In the Renaissance period, under the reign of the Emperor Rudolph II, Petřín Hill was a popular place for walks and trips. Therefore trees and decorative bushes were gradually planted there which made the walks more pleasant. Several times in its history Petřín became a shelter for troops. In 1611 it became a camp for the troops of Leopold von Habsburg and also later during the Thirty Years War. The occupation by the troops was always a great damage for Petřín because they destroyed everything standing in thir way. There were numerous attempts to renovate the desolated Petřín however due to new wartime affairs fortifications were built here instead of parks.

Later gorgeous parks were created here that were full of statues of various Czech geniuses. Besides the Petřín Lookout Tower you can visit a mirror maze, an observatory and many sacral monuments here. There are many more attractions on the hill which is more than 30 metres high and we will gradually introduce them to you.

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All about: Petrin Hill

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