The lookout tower was built for the General Land Centennial Exhibition in 1891 by the initiative of the founders of Czech Tourist Club: Dr. Vilém Kurz and architect Vratislav Pasovský.
Having been inspired by the Paris lookout tower designed by engineer Eiffel, Petřín Hill which is 318 m high was chosen for the structure. The construction began on March 16, 1891, according to the initial design of architect Vratislav Pasovský further elaborated by engineers František Prášil and Julius Souček from Czech and Moravia Machine Works (Českomoravská strojírna).
The opening ceremony took place on August 20 of the same year. The foundations were laid 11 meters underground to hold the 63.5-metre tall steel construction that weighed 175 tons. An octagonal tube is the core of the structure with the lift surrounded by two spiral staircases with 299 stairs – one for each direction. The entire structure includes bracing elements in the shape of Saint Andrew’s crosses. The tower has two lookout landings; the upper one is 55 metres high. The ground floor and basement are situated in a neo-Renaissance building.
At the beginning of July 1938, the top of the tower was damaged by fire, probably caused by a short circuit in the lift cage. The observation tower was a TV transmission tower between 1953 and 1992. Today, it is only used as a lookout tower.