Historic Italian carousel now spinning atop Prague's Petřín Hill

A wooden carousel that dates back hundreds of years has been installed next to Prague's Petřín Tower.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 20.06.2021 13:14:00 (updated on 07.12.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

Visitors to Prague's Petřín Hill this weekend might be surprised to find a new attraction next to the city's famed lookout tower: a historic wooden carousel that dates back to at least 1820, but was probably first crafted at the end of the 17th century.

The carousel was brought to the Czech Republic by Prague City Tourism from the Degli Innocenti family in Florence, Italy, who have maintained it from generation to generation over multiple centuries.

The attraction is part of efforts to revive tourism to Prague's Petřín Hill, which has been particularly affected by the pandemic and lack of visitors to the Czech capital over the past year.

Carousel on Petřín Hill. Photo: Jason Pirodsky
Carousel on Petřín Hill. Photo: Jason Pirodsky

"At the beginning of the year, we received the Petřín lookout tower and maze from the City of Prague. We generally want to revive Petřín Hill," Prague City Tourism spokesperson Klára Malá states in a press release. 

"To ensure a tourist who comes here spends a pleasant day, we have also established cooperation with the nearby Strahov Monastery or, for example, the Štefánik Observatory. So the goal is to revive Petřín Hill."

The first written record of the carousel dates back to 1820, but it was likely built more than a century earlier, with the craftsmanship credited to German artisans from Wiesbaden.

Carousel on Petřín Hill. Photo: Jason Pirodsky
Carousel on Petřín Hill. Photo: Jason Pirodsky

The carousel was last restored in 1974 by its owners. While it lacks a permanent home, it has been rented out to fairs and festivals over the years, and has been a favorite among film and TV productions.

Only three carousels from this period still survive in Europe. 

"It is a completely unique thing, there are only three of them in Europe," says Malá of Prague's new attraction. "It is the most beautiful carousel."

The carousel will operate in Prague until the end of the summer holidays, until mid-September in case of high interest.

Carousel on Petřín Hill. Photo: Jason Pirodsky
Carousel on Petřín Hill. Photo: Jason Pirodsky

A ride of about three minutes costs 70 crowns, with discounts for purchases of multiple rides.

Visitors to Prague's Petřín Hill can expect to find more accouterments this summer season under management from Prague City Tourism. Those include a new info center located inside the lookout tower, which celebrates its 130th anniversary this year.

“For quite some time now, Petřín has lacked a place for visitors to learn about good ways to spend the day at Petřín hill, to find out interesting facts about and around the lookout tower, or to ask about other tourist information of interest,” Prague Councillor for Culture and Tourism Hana Třeštíková says in a press release.

“For instance, few people know that Petřín hosted the first radio station, which started broadcasting just after the First World War. We will be collating more historical curiosities for everyone interested.”

The new Petřín attraction is not the only historic carousel in Prague.

A 19th-century carousel originally located in Vinohrady but later moved to Letná has been decommissioned since 2006 and is still undergoing a lengthy reconstruction process. Its enclosed pavilion can still be seen on the edge of Letná park.

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