Once used as storage space for gunpowder, this dark, imposing tower—covered in a web of carvings—offers a striking view of the Old Town and Prague Castle from the top. King Vladislav II of Jagiello started construction of the tower—which replaced one of the city's 13 original gates—in 1475. At the time, kings of Bohemia maintained their royal residence next door, on the site now occupied by the Obecní dům. The tower was intended to be the grandest gate of all.
Vladislav, however, was Polish, and somewhat disliked by the rebellious Czech citizens of Prague. Nine years after he assumed power, and fearing for his life, he moved the royal court across the river to Prague Castle. Work on the tower was abandoned, and the half-finished structure remained a depository for gunpowder until the end of the 17th century. The golden spires were not added until the end of the 19th century. The ticket office is on the first floor, after you go up the dizzyingly narrow stairwell.