Prague Towers (6) – Old Town Bridge Tower

View to the Old Town Prague roofs,

Old Town Bridge Tower from the Charles bridge

Old Town bridge tower was built at the same time as the Charles bridge (second half of 14th century) by the work-shop of Petr Parléř, the most important builder in gothic Prague. About hundred masons worked on it during its building. Recontructions were done in 17th and 19 centuries, also changes were done in 50s an 70s of the 20th century.

From 1621-1631 the tower served also as a display for 12 heads of leaders of estate revolt, who were executed at the Old Town Square. One night they were taken down and burried at the unknown place. The tower was sorely spoiled at the end of 30 years war in 1648 by Swedish Army, all the decoration from western side (from the bridge) are gone. There used to be statues of Madonna, Charles IV and his wife. Two oracular writings were found during one of the recontructions, they are in latin and readable in the same way from back as from the beginning: “Signate, signate, mere me tangis et angis” and “Roma, tibi subito motibus ibit amor” (palindromes). They have no easy meaning (and therefore I am not able to translate them to English), but the magic formulae of power and might is hidden in them. They are spells to protect the tower.


King fisher in knotted-towel, sign of spa-guild, symbol of Wenceslas IV (son of Charles IV), also symbol of pure soul, can protect from lightning, multiples treasuries and calms the storm


Look up when standing under tower, king’s crown and more king-fishers

The ground part of the tower – up to the size of “the man on the horse” – belongs to the carnal life.


The entrance to the tower and Prague castle view

The next belt belongs to moon, above the gate there are coats of arms of the lands under Charles IV rule. The most important ones are in the middle, a black eagle in the gold field (roman emperor) and a silver double-tailed lion in red field (Czech king).

Right above is the next belt – the sun one. St. Vitus, patron of the bridge, is in the middle and by his sides are Charles IV and Wenceslas IV, arched over with triangle decorated by 24 crabs, symbols of 24 hours. Both rulers are coronated with emperor’s crown. Above them are St. Vojtěch and St. Zikmund. The statues were made in 1380-1400, but now you can find here sandstone copies from 2006.


Tower interior ceilings, scultpure at the tower as viewed from Křižovnické náměstí

You have to climb 138 stairs to reach the view platform. The height of the tower is 154 ft (47 m) above bridge level and 187 ft (57 m) above Vltava river level.


Views to the bridge and Prague Castle from the tower


River view


Direction Old Town

The roof of the tower was originally covered by polished gold, the gold covered also the cloaks of the statues. It nicely corresponded with the St. Vitus cathedral at Prague Castle, whose roof was covered with gold as well. The roof is made of shale now. The symbolic and spectacular decorations served to show the triumph of Luxembourg family, and they also had cosmologic and astronomical importancy at the date of tower origin.

There is one special Mystery of solstice. Every year at the solstice at the noon the shadow of the lion covers the coat of arms with the eagle. It happens only this one day of the year.
And when you stand at the former saint Vitus day at the bottom of the tower and you look at the sunset above Prague castle, the Sun shows you exactly the place where the remains of St. Vitus are buried in St. Vitus cathedral.

The next tower is Astronomical Tower of Klementinum, here as seen from the Old Town Bridge Tower.


Astronomical Tower of Klementinum is the second one from left with statue of Atlas holding the globe on the top

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


24 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. karelerak
    Feb 18, 2013 @ 09:15:07

    Moc se mi to líbilo, jen pár připomínek (není to zevrubná korekce).

    The tower was hardly spoiled…

    Myslím, že “hardly” znamená něco jako “sotva, málo, neznatelně”, asi jsi chtěla říct “těžce poškozen” ? severely, seriously, gravely. Nebo se pletu?

    Two oracular writing … chybí ti “s” na konci writings


    According to a legend, the devil himself said this sentence to St. Martin, who had changed him into a donkey and ridden him to Rome. Each half of the sentence is palindromic; in translation: ‘Cross thyself, you plague and vex me without need / For by my efforts you are about to reach Rome, the object of your travel’.

    The statues were done… míto “done” lépe “made” nebo “created”

    Místy vynecháváš nebo používáš nesprávně “the” a “a”… 🙂



  2. Sara P.G.
    Feb 18, 2013 @ 10:16:15

    so creative love it!


  3. jakesprinter
    Feb 18, 2013 @ 14:55:43

    Stunning photography my friend 🙂


  4. A. Mittal
    Feb 18, 2013 @ 16:22:30

    Been to Prague, beautiful city..interesting post 🙂


  5. bubblytee
    Feb 18, 2013 @ 17:28:10

    Wow, this was an incredibly beautiful and comprehensive tour …and I basked in every word and every image…thank you!!

    It is hard to conceive of a roof covered in gold…what a concept!! 🙂

    …all this old architecture is why i yearn to travel in Europe. my country is too young and nothing here fascinates me in the way of touristing. I have been to New York, Florida and California and only Oregon is on my bucket list at the present.

    that latin does intrigue me…


  6. bubblytee
    Feb 18, 2013 @ 17:30:03

    I found this info concerning the latin phrases:

    “sign, if you stain me with your touch you´ll be strangled” and “Rome, love will be sacrificed to you through upheavals”. These sentences allegedly contain a magical formula of power. It is a so-called magical trap, a conjuration, supposed to threaten evil powers. Such inscriptions were written usually on religious buildings especially in Italy.


  7. Lynne Ayers
    Feb 18, 2013 @ 19:39:49

    Congratulations – saw you in Junsjazz 🙂


  8. Cheryl
    Feb 18, 2013 @ 21:04:37

    I absolutely love these pictures. I hope to one day make it to Prague. I fell in love with the city when I saw Mission Impossible. Silly, I know, but it’s just a beautiful place and I enjoy seeing it through your lens!


  9. Pani Peonia
    Feb 18, 2013 @ 21:13:00

    I know those places from 70-thies. I wish I see them again!


  10. Alien Shores
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 01:43:05

    Katy …. Thanks to you my Photo Opportunity List is growing rapidly. I have only 3 days in Prague in April and some of that is pre-organised by the Cruise people – I wonder how it will go. I will need to seriously prioritise. I think I might just use your posts as my Guidebook. Thanks …. Love the detail information too.


  11. Pat
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 03:52:43

    I love your attention to detail. 🙂


  12. Amy
    Feb 19, 2013 @ 18:46:31

    Thank you for posting the details! Beautiful photos.


  13. Trackback: Prague Towers (7) – Astronomical Tower Klementinum | PragueByKaty
  14. Trackback: Prague Towers (8) – Old Town Townhall Tower | PragueByKaty
  15. Trackback: Prague Towers (9) – Powder Tower | PragueByKaty
  16. Trackback: Prague Towers (5) – Little Quarter Bridge Tower | PragueByKaty
  17. Trackback: Prague Towers (4) – St. Nicholas Church | PragueByKaty
  18. Trackback: Prague Towers (3) – Petřín Watchtower | PragueByKaty
  19. Trackback: Prague Towers (2) – St. Vitus Cathedral | PragueByKaty
  20. Trackback: Prague Towers (1) – Introduction | PragueByKaty
  21. Trackback: Prague Towers (10) – St. Henry’s Tower | PragueByKaty
  22. Trackback: Prague Towers (11) – Žižkov TV Tower | PragueByKaty
  23. Trackback: Weekly Photo Challenge: A Day in My Life | PragueByKaty

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