The Powder Tower

The Powder Tower is one of the most remarkable monuments of medieval Prague. It marked the beginning of the Prague royal route and the end of an important road from Kutná Hora, where silver was mined for the royal treasury.

The late Gothic town gate was built on the site of an older entrance tower associated with the ramparts of the Old Town of Prague built during the rule of Wenceslas II. The name of the older tower structure – Mountain Tower (Horská brána) – referred to the road to Kutná Hora mentioned above.

After the New Town of Prague was established, the Old Town ramparts, which included the Mountain Tower, lost their significance and were no longer maintained. This resulted in such a deterioration of the tower that it soon became known as the “Shabby” tower. The construction of the current tower was probably associated with the royal court, which was located adjacent to the tower, i.e. on the site of the current Municipal House, since the 1370s. The tower was conceived as the symbol of the royal authority and a place for customs collection. The construction began in 1475 and was supervised by the master bricklayer Wenceslas. The next year, Matěj Rejsek from Prostějov replaced him. Originally called the “New Tower”, its foundations were laid almost nine metres deep below the current street level and it rose to 42 metres. However, the construction remained unfinished, which was probably why it received only temporary roofing. From around 1715, the tower was used as a gunpowder storage facility (hence its name – Powder Tower). The tower was seriously damaged during the Prussian siege of Prague in 1757.

The Powder Tower was most recently redesigned during the pseudo-Gothic purist reconstruction conducted by architect Josef Mocker between 1878 and 1886. Having been strongly inspired by the Old Town Bridge Tower, Mocker built a tented roof with corner turrets and a gallery, and had the early 19th-century clock removed. He also reconstructed all the vaults as well as the sculptural decoration, thus supplementing the original Rejsek decoration.

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