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Malá Strana Bridge Towers, Prague, Czech Republic

Flanking the entrance to Charles Bridge on the Vltava’s left bank, the Malá Strana Bridge Towers form an important part of the Lesser Town’s landscape. The towers were built about 200 years apart, and they served quite different purposes. Today, both are accessible to the public, and their uppermost levels offer good views of Charles Bridge and Malá Strana.

The smaller of the two towers is a Romanesque structure dating to the 12th century, gaining its current Renaissance silhouette in 1591. It was part of the Judith Bridge, which predated Charles Bridge and was destroyed by floods in 1342, but the earliest reference to the tower was before that, in 1249. Known as the Judith Tower, it was used as a jail for two centuries, and the customs authority was based in the tower from 1591 to 1784. An important set of engravings from the mid-13th century has been preserved in the tower’s vaults, including depictions of persons, animals and weaponry, an eight-pointed star and several noble coats of arms.

The taller tower dates to 1464, and its High Gothic architecture draws upon Petr Parlér’s styling of the Old Town Bridge Tower, on the eastern side of the bridge. The second tower was constructed in tandem with Charles Bridge in 1357 but was not finished until a century later, during the reign of George of Podebrady. It was primarily used as a storehouse and, because of its spatial layout, was also used as a watchtower by the authorities.

An arched stone gate built in the early 15th century connects the two towers, forming an entrance to Charles Bridge.

Information courtesy of praguewelcome.cz

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