Prague Towers (1) – Introduction

There are several nicknames for our capital city of Prague. The most used and most famous are: Prague – mother of cities, Golden Prague (because of the golden tops of spires) and Hundred-spired Prague. Several times I tried to count the spires and towers of Prague, but I always got stucked on: is this a spire or not? But it is rather easy to reach number 100 counting only REAL spires or towers. I plan to map views and informations about the most important towers of Prague in my future posts and this is my introduction to the topic.

Prague's towers, but just a few on the view

Prague’s towers, but just a few on the view

One web page shows you panoramatic views from Prague towers on-line, sometimes it is a bit slow, check it here.

In this my introduction post I will show you some towers that are not available for climbing up and some of them are out of the beaten track, therefore I want you to notice them as well as the most famous ones.

Strahov Monastery, basilic of Asumption of Our Lady

Strahov Monastery, basilic of Assumption of Our Lady

I have already written about Strahov Monastery with beautiful gallery and nice brewery in one of my previous posts. The monastery basilic has two big towers, which make beautiful panorama of Petřín Hill to the West from Prague castle, you can check the view here on the third shot. The basilic was originally built in romanesque style in 12th century, it was rebuilt in gothic style after the fire in 13th century . After hussite wars it was almost lost, then it was rebuilt in the rennaissance and finally in the baroque style. Baroque alteration was done by Anselmo Lurago in 18th century. It was fairly reconstructed in 1993. The basilic is not opened for public, only for Sunday ceremony, to which you are invited.

Loreta, wonderful chime

Loreta, wonderful chime

Loreta is a very famous place – church and monastery in Prague Castle District. I plan to write about it more in one of my next posts. Now you can admire its baroque tower with a chime from 17th century, which consists of 30 smaller or bigger bells. The bells were done in Amsterdam, now they are placed at the top of the clock tower. The building is the work of Kryštof (father) and Killián Ignác (son) Dientzenhofers, honourable baroque architects. The story says that a poor widow had 27 children. One by one died during a big plague epidemy  and one of the bells rang for each child. When the last child died, widow died by the grief as well and the whole chime played the song for her.

Small romanesque Little Quarter bridge tower

Small romanesque Little Quarter bridge tower

Smaller bridge tower on Little Quarter side of Charles bridge is the older one, romanesque, and it is called Judith’s tower. It was built in 12th century as a tower for Judith’s bridge, the first Prague stone bridge that was taken by flood in 14th century and therefore a new, bigger and stronger stone bridge, known as Charles bridge now, was built. Both Little Qaurter towers look similar for the first view, mainly due to their similar roofs. But when you look closer, you see the differences. Judith’s Tower is older, made from bricks, the newer and higher tower is made from big sand stones. Judith’s tower received renaissance sgraffiti facade at the end of 16th century.

St. Nicholas Church forms nice opposite to the Gothic Church of Our Lady in front of the Týn at the Old Town Square. It was built in 18th century by Killián Ignác Dientzenhofer in baroque style. For short period it served as a storage house, now it is church of hussite church. The statue of Jan Hus is just a few metres from it.

St. Nicholas at the Old Town

St. Nicholas at the Old Town

Jewish Townhall, look at the bottom clock, hebrew numbers and going counter-clockwise

Jewish Townhall, look at the bottom clock, hebrew numbers and going counter-clockwise

Jewish Town in Prague is very interesting place and it worths visiting. Jewish Town was not like a ghetto, it was a real town with its own townhall. You can see it on the shot, the building with the clock spire. Do not miss the clocks, the top one is “traditional” one, the bottom one has numbers in hebrew and it is going counter-clock-wise. The townhall was built in 16th century in renaissance style, financed by Jewish Mayor Mordechaj Maisel, now it has rococo facade. The main entrance is on Maisel street. The building on the left is the oldest synagogue in Europe called Old New Synagogue. It is gothic and it was built in 13th century by cisterciac monks. It still serves ceremony and can be visited any day but not on Saturday.

The next spire is on the Church of Our Lady and Charles the Great at Karlov (=Charles’s place). It was founded by Charles IV when founding New Town in 14th century as a part of important capitulary monastery. It should remind you that Prague is the seat of Roman Emperor (Charles IV). In the monastery you will find Police museum and nice views to Vyšehrad and Nusle valley.

Karlov, the first dome in Prague

Karlov, the first dome in Prague

Mánes, Šítkov water tower

Mánes, Šítkov water tower

Back to river. River Vltava (=wild water in Celtic language) was always source of the water, still it is one of the cleanest rivers in Europe, but we don’t drink water from it any more. You will find more water towers on both sides of the river. In the picture there is Šítkov’s water tower, it is located between National Theatre and Dancing House. It was built in 15th century as a part of Šítkov’s mills. It gave water to houses and fountains in Old and New Towns till 1847. Fortunatelly, it was not demolished and we can admire it till now. It is 47 metres high and it is tilted  from vertical line by 115 cm, it is the most leaning tower in Prague. During communistic regime it served like an observation point for Secret Police, because the residence of disident Václav Havel (and also the first democratic president from 1990) is very close on the quai.

The last spire in my introduction is on the building that serves as a seat of Hus Congregation in Prague 6 Dejvice. Dejvice became my favorite place after a few afternoons spent there wandering and making shots of colorful facades full of small details. I will write about that quarter soon. Prague has a gorgeous center, but also other quarters can surprise you with rich architecture.

Prague 6, Dejvice Townhall

Prague 6, Dejvice, Hus Congregation building

The whole series to be found here

1 Introduction
2 Bell Tower of St. Vitus Cathedral
3 Petřín Watchtower
4 St. Nicholas Bellfry
5 Little Quarter’s Bridge Tower
6 Old Town’s Bridge Tower
7 Astronomical Klementinum Tower
8 Tower of the Old Town Townhall
9 Powder Tower


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bubblytee
    Jan 14, 2013 @ 14:48:11

    Wonderful and amazing fotos of the incredible architectur to b found in your country! This is why I prefer to travel in older countries; I am in awe of the beautiful structures built so long ago when limited tools were available!

    You are a terrific writer and provide just the right amount of historical information. Well done!! …and thank you!! 🙂


  2. tearoomdelights
    Jan 15, 2013 @ 14:16:49

    What a splendid selection of towers, all in different styles but each very interesting in itself. Prague is indeed a beautiful city, with so much history. I’m very sorry for that lady who had 27 children who all died, that’s a tragic tale.


  3. Trackback: Prague Towers (2) – St. Vitus Cathedral « PragueByKaty
  4. Trackback: Prague Towers (3) – Petřín Watchtower « PragueByKaty
  5. Madhu
    Jan 28, 2013 @ 14:10:50

    A gorgeous set of images Katy! The text is a perfect complement 🙂


  6. Trackback: Prague Towers (4) – St. Nicholas Church « PragueByKaty
  7. Trackback: Prague Towers (5) – Little Quarter Bridge Tower « PragueByKaty
  8. Trackback: Prague Towers (6) – Old Town Bridge Tower « PragueByKaty
  9. Trackback: Prague Towers (7) – Astronomical Tower Klementinum | PragueByKaty
  10. Trackback: Prague Towers (8) – Old Town Townhall Tower | PragueByKaty
  11. Trackback: Prague Towers (9) – Powder Tower | PragueByKaty
  12. Trackback: Prague Towers (10) – St. Henry’s Tower | PragueByKaty
  13. Trackback: Prague Towers (11) – Žižkov TV Tower | PragueByKaty

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