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Old town - Prague 1

Old Town Bridge Tower

GPS: 50°5'9.96"N, 14°24'48.96"E

 

Charles Bridge is the finest example of medieval bridge construction. Crowning this good construction the Old Town gothic bridge tower was built on east side of the bridge on the first bridge pillar with a gate-way leading to the Charles Bridge. In particular thanks to its rich wrought stone work the tower is ranked as on of the most beautiful in central Europe. Its function was firstly strategic but it also stood as an arch of triumph. Charles IV. appointed Petr Parléř to construct and sculpture the tower. It was well known that Petr parléř was also a very skilful sculptor. The whole tower was probably completed before 1380.

There was a lot written about the symbology of artwork. Let us only mention that the east side of tower is divided to three sectors by the horizontal ledges. Lower part with the gate, arcade and the entry to the inside stairs symbolizes earth-life. For centuries people with their daily worries and fortunes are walking through the gate. The middle part symbolizes Christian empire under the patronage of St. Vitus. Sculpture of this saint was settled between sculptures of the bridge and tower builders, Emperor Charles IV. and his son Wenceslas IV., the Czech throne successor. The highest part is the astral or heavenly part and is solely dedicated to saints. Here are the sculptures of Czech land patrons – St. Zikmund and St. Vojtěch.

West side of the tower was no less adorned. Almost everything was unfortunately destroyed during the battles on Charles Bridge in 1648 and also in 1848.

The Old Town bridge tower, which has 43 m of height, is opened to public with exception of its gallery.