This high-gothic tower from the workshop of the distinguished master builder Petr Parléø is one of the most beautiful examples of gothic architecture in Europe. The foundations of the sandstone tower were laid together with the foundations of the Charles Bridge, and its construction was completed in 1380. It is conceived as a defence tower, but it also has a high aesthetic value and unique sculptural decorations as part of the Royal Way. The western wall of the tower was heavily damaged by Swedish cannon fire at the end of the Thirty Years War. The tower’s eastern wall is dominated by a unique portrait statue of Emperor Charles IV and King Wenceslas IV, while St. Vitus watches over them. The floor below has statues of St. Sigismund, the patron saint of Luxembourg, and St. Adalbert, the patron saint of Bohemia. At their legs of the saints, there is the statue of a lion, which looks down from the tower. A symbolic apparition occurs on St. Vitus’ Day (15 June) when the shadow of the head of the lion falls on an escutcheon below it, which depicts an eagle. This symbolically affirms the link between Bohemia and Moravia. Other statues have been similarly placed whose number and amount of decorative elements have a hidden meaning connected with astrology. The first floor used to contain a guardhouse, while the second floor served as a jail for debtors from wealthy families. Another feature worth mentioning is the mysterious statue of the so-called Tower Man from the middle of the 15th century, which stands on a column at the end of the stairway.
Essentially, the tower at the western end of the bridge comprises two towers of different appearance, origin and size. The smaller of the towers was erected in the Romanesque style. It was part of the Judith Bridge (which was Prague’s first stone bridge built in the first half of the 12th century) but it is actually older. The first references to the tower date back to 1249. The second, taller tower began to be erected with the construction of Charles Bridge in 1357 using the Old Town Bridge Tower on the opposite bank of the river as a template. Naturally, it was not finished until a century later under the reign of George of Podìbrady. Both towers are linked by a gate with a spire dating from the beginning of the 15th century. From the beginning of the 15th century, the smaller tower (the so-called Judith Tower) was used as a jail and it retained this role for another two hundred years. The customs authority was based in the tower from 1591 to 1784. The entrance to the tower is from the passageway of building no. 56, which was the headquarters of the Prague Bridge Authority and the imperial Salt Authority. In the same year in which the customhouse was established, the tower was also refurbished in a Renaissance style. An important set of engravings from the middle of the 13th century has been preserved in the tower’s vaults. These depict human figures, animals and weapons, an eight-pointed star and several noble coats of arms. The highest of the towers is the youngest part of the entire Charles Bridge. It was primarily used as a storehouse and, because of its spatial layout, it also served as a watchtower like the tower at St. Nicholas Cathedral or on the Old Town Square.
Lesser Town Bridge Tower connects Charles bridge with Lesser town. The smaller tower - Judith tower- is older than the bigger one, comes from 12. century, the big one was built with Charles bridge. Judith tower served as a tough prison and later offices. Because nobody cared so much, it stayed over centuries without any ornamentation, statues or paintings.
Old Town Bridge Tower is 47 m high and is located on the left side of Charles bridge (close to the Old Town Square). Foundations of the gothic tower were laid with the foundations of Charles bridge. It supposed to be a defence tower. King Charles IV. cared about this tower a lot and let make a great symbols of czech land. There is a lion looking down from the tower, always 15.6. (name day of St. Vitus) the shadow of the head of the lion falls on the illustration of eagle - symbols of Czech and Moravian land, which means that they belong to each other.
After finishing the building, the tower got a magical formula to protect it: Signa te, signa, temere me tangis et angis. (if you read it backwards, it is the same).
The tower went throught a lot of important events like Thirty years war or Prague defenestration, when the heads of killed aldermen were showed up on the tower for a year.
Charles Bridge have 3 towers - the first one at the entry from the old town side is considered to be one of the most impressive gothic-style building in the world - I didn't know that until today and I was not even paying attention to the details. The next time, I will -- that is when I have lots of time to stare at one object for a longer period.
The two other towers are located on the "Lesser Town" -- that side going to the castle.
This structure is actually double. The lower tower is called Judith tower and is remain from the older bridge than Charles Bridge. On Romanesque remains newer Tower, called “Lesser Town Bridge Tower” was constructed in 1464. So, structure consists of two towers – bigger and newer, and smaller- older. Again, the same as with other tower and bridge, it was designed by Peter Parler.
Lesser town bridge tower houses exhibition of Charles Bridge history.
If to mention Peter Parler, he was German architect (1330(?) – 1399), famous for designing such monuments as Charles Bridge with towers, Saint Vitus Cathedral, Church of Our Lady in Nuremberg, Kolin’s Cathedral. He was designer of Prague new town, was buried in St. Vitus Cathedral.
Old town bridge tower is said to be the most beautiful bridge towers in Europe, 64 meters tall, richly decorated by sculptures, statues (eg., Saint Vitus, King Charles IV, King Wenceslas, Saint Adalbert and so on). The architectural decision was made by the same architect who designed Charles Bridge – Peter Parler. Tower was built in 1370-1391 in late gothic style. Some parts of defensive tower were damage at war with Swedish in 1648.
Nowadays it is possible to go up the tower to see panorama of Old town from one side and Charles Bridge from another. It is interesting, how much people per day go through this bridge? :)
When you are on the Charles bridge which crosses the Vtlava river, look out for the bridge tower that allows tourists to enter (for a fee) this exquisite gothic-style building. Two of the bridges are on the Lesser Quarter and one is on the Old Town side…
I forgot which one I went up to. But it is nice because you do get a nice view of the bridge from above – you have magnificent overlook of the Baroque-style 30 statues and statuaries from the 1700’s.
…and when you see pictures of Charles Bridge again the future, you smile and remember you went up the tower… and did not jump...
This magnificent 14th-century tower marks the entrance to the bridge on the right bank of the Vltava, where the quarter of the same name lies.
Take a look at the statues and sculptures that decorate it. There are coats of arms, heraldic emblems, figures of saints, sovereigns and patrons of Bohemia.
The tower was restored in the 19th century, when it also got its roof.
The 2 towers mark the end of the bridge where it meets the quarter of the same name.
The lower tower, built in the late 12th century and reconstructed in the 16th century, formed part of the old Judith Bridge.
The higher tower, from the 2nd half of the 15th century, took the place of an old Romanesque tower.
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