Years ago an architect friend told me about Ještěd and said it was her favourite modern building in the Czech Republic. She described a mountain peak with a aerodynamic circular tower that was wide at the base and swooped up to a beesting point at the top, and gestured to show how the building adopted the slope of the hill and extended it so that it seemed almost like the hilltop was built for the tower, rather than the other way around.
To be proper, Ještěd is the name of the peak on which the tower stands, but the location and the construction have become so inseparable now that nobody ever says 'the tower on top of Ještěd' or 'the hotel on top of Ještěd', they just say 'Ještěd' and everybody knows it means the hill and the tower that extends it.
My architect friend is not the only one to have admired Ještěd. In 1969 architect Karel Hubaček was awarded the Perret prize (for technology applied to architecture) by the International Union of Architects. In 1998 it was made a national cultural monument, in 2000 voted Construction of the Century by the Czech public, and in 2006 it was featured in David Ondraček's film Grand Hotel.
Visible for many miles around, Ještěd has become a symbol of Liberec and the region, and is possibly the most recognisable modern building in the country. So the building is unique and it's probably the closest I'll ever come to being in the spaceships I once admired in Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars, but the views alone would have made the climb worthwhile. They say you can see Prague on a clear day, and I think I caught a glimpse of Říp mountain on the horizon; but at night, it's the lights of Liberec that brighten up the valley below like a twinkling garden of electronic stars.
To get to Ještěd from Liberec, you can take tram #3 to its final stop at Horní Hanychov and take the cable car from 200m further along the same road. It's 60Kč just to go up or 100Kč for the return trip. From the same tram terminus you can also follow the blue-marked hiking trail which will bring you to the peak after 4km.
Just watch out for Ewoks as you pass through the forest.