Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Czech Republic 2016
Technical Monuments: 125 Years of the Petřín Observation Tower and 125 Years of the Petřín Funicular

COUNTRY: Czech Republic
ISSUE DATE: 16 March 2016
STAMP SIZE: 23 x 40 mm
ENGRAVER: Martin Srb
 STAMP DESIGN: Adolf Absolon

The 63.5-metre-tall Petřín Observation Tower is one of the most prominent in Prague. In 1889, members of the Club of Czech Tourists visited the world exposition in Paris and were so inspired by the Eiffel Tower that they decided to build a similar landmark in Prague. They formed a Cooperative for the Construction of the Petřín Observation Tower, made the first investment into it and obtained a plot of municipal land as the construction site at Petřín Hill, 318 meters above sea level. In 1890, the project design was finished and the necessary funds collected to start the construction of the five times smaller replica of the Eiffel Tower. The tower was designed by architect Vratislav Pasovský and Ing. František Prášil, and Ing. Julius Souček from Czech and Moravian Engineering Works were the structural engineers. The planned work started on 16 March and was completed for the opening ceremony on 20 August 1891. The 63.5-metre-tall steel framework weighing 175 tons was erected on the 11-metre-deep foundations.

The tower has an octagonal cross-section. It contains a central elevator and two winding staircases with 299 steps, one for the way up and the other one for the way down. The upper of the two observation decks is at the height of 55 metres.

On 5 July 1938, a fire broke out at the top of the tower, probably due to a short circuit in the elevator cabin. The one hundred visitors were rushed out. Although it was a difficult task because of the height of the tower, the firefighters managed to extinguish the fire in thirty minutes and saved the wooden structure under the metal roofing. By mid-August 1938, the tower was repaired and reopened.

The Petřín Funicular is a funicular railway used to carry passengers to the top of Petřín Hill. The cars run on tracks using a system of tow cables. The line is 510.4 metres long. The owner and operator is the Prague Public Transit Company. Almost 2 million passengers used the funicular in 2014.

The construction of the funicular began in February 1891 based on an 1890 design. It was made to carry people to the newly built Petřín Observation Tower. Like the new funicular to Letná park, the observation tower and the funicular were built to mark the General Land Centennial Exhibition.

The original design was different from the current one. The top stop was closer to Nebozízek Restaurant, and there was no middle stop. The bottom stop was also at a different site. The cars were operated using the water-balance drive system.

Stamp image and description thanks to Česká pošta