Bridge Towers

Old Town Bridge Tower

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This entrance gate from the Old Town to the Charles Bridge is considered to be one of the most beautiful bridge towers in Europe. It was built according to Petr Parléř’s design in the 2. half of 14th century. In the ground floor of the Tower the gate is vaulted with a Gothic net vault, the space of which is decorated with paintings by Petr Meixner made from the remnants of old frescos. The painting probably represent a woman-barber Zuzana who rescued King Wenceslas IV from imprisonment, the portrait of Christ with angels, emblems of a kingfisher in a witches’ broom (the symbol of Wenceslas IV.) and the attributes of the Empire and of the Prague Town.

The eastern front of the Tower is sectionalised by architectural and plastic decoration. The emblem of the Prague Old Town is in the crown of the Gothic arch, two kingfishers in a witches’ broom are in the walls downstairs and phials grow from consoles around the quoin. The consoles are interesting as well – to the left a knight with a nun and to the right a woman’s and a man’s busts. A belt of Charles’ Empire emblems is situated above the gate. The statue of St. Vitus, the patron of the Bridge, is in the middle of the first floor, with the sitting statue of Charles IV. with the Roman Empire Emblem on the left side and the sitting statue of Wenceslas IV. with the Czech National Emblem on the right side. Both statues originated from the Parléř’s smelter. On the sides the Old Town Emblem is perched together with the Moravian Emblem, which was added later. In the second floor two pairs of windows, between which the figures of St. Adalbert and St. Sigismond stand, unhinged at the front. Nearby are again two emblems with the kingfisher. The entrance into the Tower is on the northern part of the gate. The stairs lead to the higher floors and on the top there stands a grotesque Gothic figure of a tower guardian.

The western front of the Tower, which used to have the same decoration as the eastern front in former times, was strongly devastated at the Swedish siege of the Old Town in 1648 and therefore its plastic decoration had to be removed and only one witches’ broom with the kingfisher has been left. In 1650 and 1652 the tablet with an inscription about the peace agreement in 1648 and with the Old Town Emblem was embedded into the front.

Lesser Town Bridge Tower