The Šítkovská Water-tower, also called Upper New Town Water-tower (Šítkovská vodárenská věž or Hořejší novoměstská vodárenská věž in Czech) is a water-tower in the south part of the New Town, on the right bank of Vltava at the southern end of Žofín, in immediate vicinity of the Mánes Union of Fine Arts building.
The original Water-tower on this site was built in 1495. It was wooden structure, therefore it was destroyed by a fire in 1501. A new tower was built on the site, but soon it collapsed due to a poor quality of the construction. Third tower was built there, but in 1588 it burned down again, as well as the neighbouring mills. The fires of the water-towers were quite common in that time, because an open fire had to be kept there during the wintertime, to ensure that the water would not freeze. In 1588 the construction of the present tower started. The construction works were led by Karel Mělnický, a townsman from Prague’s New Town and it was completed in 1591. The tower and the water-station, which was situated on the north side of the tower, were built with the help of a wooden crane. Beside the crane the carpenters also constructed eight water wheels to drive the machinery. Documents mention that in 1601 this water-station supplied 3/4 of New Town with water. The water-station was named after the miller, Jan Šítka, who owned the nearby mill.
In 1648 during a siege of Prague by Swedish army the tower was damaged by the enemy artillery. this is commemorated not only by a memorial plaque, but also by a cannonball, stick in the wall of the tower. Historical records say, that the tower got 91 hits. Due to the damage, a repair work was done in 1651, using generous funding by Emperor Ferdinand. In that time the tower gained its current Baroque roof, which was covered with copper plate in the 18th century.
The tower served as the water-tower for public fountains and residential houses in parts of New Town and Old Town for a long time. It was taken out of service in 1881 and its function was taken over by a new reservior at Karlov. In 1882 the watework mechanism was dismantled and the tower was to be demolished. Fortunately, this intention of the city council was prevented by the Arts Forum society (“Umělecká beseda“), so the old water-tower was thoroughly reconstructed in 1883.
In 1927 and again in the 1980s restoration works took place, so the inclination of the tower does not increase any more.
After the downfall of the communist regime, an observation point of the communist secret police was discovered in the tower. The reason of this was to monitor the house on the nearby embankment, where Václav Havel lived at that time.
The base of the tower was reconstructed in 1995-1996 as part of extensive repairs to the Mánes building. The complete reconstruction was carried out in 2005-2008.
The tower is 47 metres high, it has square cross-section with dimensions 10×10 metres. From the inside, the tower is divided into 8 floors. The walls are made of rubble stone and are 35 metres in height. The total height of the tower is 47 metres including 12 metres of the cupola. It is slightly inclined (the difference between the top and the base is 42 centimetres).
Learn more about about the Towers of Prague