Prague Powder Gate – Gothic, Neo-Renaissance and Mission Impossible
In Czech it’s called “Prasna Brana” so the literal translation is the Powder Gate (not Powder Tower). A statement of power and more practically, also a customs office, it replaced the much older “Mountain Gate” which had been part of the original old town defences but then deteriorated as the New Town grew and the gate lost it’s purpose.
The gate location dates back to the mid-13th Century when it was one of the original entry points to the Old Town. What you see now was finished around 1475 in a plain late Gothic style that took it’s inspiration from the Charles Bridge gate towers created by the architect Peter Parler. It was renovated into it’s current form between 1876 and 1886 when it acquired the Neo-Gothic decorative additions and the clock that had been installed approximately 70 years before was removed. The building to the right of the Prague Powder Gate is now the Municipal House but up until the 16th Century was still the Royal Court and was later used as an army barracks. The gate gets it’s name from the early 18th Century when as part of the barracks it securely held the gunpowder supply for the defence of this part of Prague.
Reasons for Visiting the Prague Powder Gate?
Well, for a start if you are walking from the Old Town Square in the direction of Republic Square then it’s at the end of the street so you can’t miss it. But, from an historical viewpoint the Prague Powder Gate is one of only two of the original thirteen Old Town city gate locations that survive (the other being the Charles Bridge Old Town side). The Powder Gate is also one end of the Royal Road.
If you are looking for the scenic aspect then you can buy a ticket at the Prague Powder Gate ticket office and climb to the top. This will get you up to the viewing gallery which is 44 metres above the ground and gives stunning rooftop views over the Old Town, New Town and across to the Prague Castle. I warn you, if you are claustrophobic then don’t come here as the stairway is extremely narrow.
Are you a “Mission Impossible” fan? Then you’ll come here but only up to the first level which links the Prague Powder Gate with the Municipal House. This was used as the scene in the original Mission Impossible film where Tom Cruise first meets the character Max. In that scene one of Max’s henchmen plugs the disk into the drive and shortly after a number of CIA/Military people arrive. Max, Tom Cruise and all then make a quick exit and it’s this part crossing that span that was filmed here.
You can find more detail including the opening times (opens from 10am but closing times vary) on the Prague City Museums webpage.