Lesser Town Bridge Towers - Mostecká Street, Lesser Town
Mostecká Street, Lesser Town
From Mostecká street we can access the Charles birdge through a gate between two Les-ser Town Bridge Towers. The Romanesque lower tower is the oldest part of the whole bridge, the higher is one is on the other hand the youngest one out of all three defensive towers.
The Romanesque prismatic argillite tower had probably been built in the early second quarter of the 12th century as part of the fortification of the left bank of the river Vltava where it had defended the entry from the original wooden bridge. Later, it had been integrated into the complex of Judith Bridge, and after its destruction, also into new Charles Bridge. The arch of the gate between the lower Lesser Town Tower Bridge and the Romanesque predecessor of the today’s higher Lesser Town Tower Bridge had been built in 1411; a prison for the worst felons had been in the tower. The Tower had undergone Renaissance adaptation in 1591, which gave it its nowadays form (some remains of the plaster, window surrounds, gables, roof have been pre-served); since that adaptation until 1784 it had served as a customs office, then it had belonged to various landlords, and since 1893 it has been the town property. A unique set of engravings from the mid-13th century has been preserved in the tower basement (they depict human figu-res, animals, arms, eight-pointed star and coats-of-arms). The small Renaissance house, the so-called customhouse, which had been annexed in 1591 to the Tower, houses a relief with a thro-ning and kneeling figure that is a rare relic of Judith Bridge decoration; originally, the house had been a seat of the Office of the Prague Bridge and Salt Office. The Tower interior, which is not open to the public at present, consists of a ground floor and three higher floors, each having a single room, that are connected with wooden steps. In the end of the staircase there is an entry to the gate arch, which is connected with the higher Lesser Town Bridge Tower. The Romanesque core of the lower Lesser Town Bridge Tower is the oldest part of the complex of Charles Bridge.
The higher Lesser Town Tower Bridge had been built after the year 1464 at the expense of King George of Poděbrady (1420-1471) in place of an older Romanesque tower. Similarly to its older predecessor, it features a simple prismatic form, but is built of large sandstone blocks. Without its finials and tips it is 45 metres high; the gallery is in the height of 26 metres. Late Gothic architecture of the Tower follows up the Old Town Bridge Tower built by Parler. Origi-nally, rich sculptural decoration had probably been intended, but the prepared recesses remained empty. Four turrets with castellated loop-holes protrude from the moulding corners; recesses are stoned up between the turrets to protect the gallery round the steep saddle roof. The construction had undergone complete repair in 1874-79 under the leadership of the architect Josef Mocker (1835-1899). The Tower had been used as a warning post and store-house; today, it is open for the public as a lookout point and exhibition area with permanent display of the history of Char-les Bridge.
The gate arch in the form of two Gothic parallel pointed arcades with serrated castellation had appeared after the year 1411 in place of an older Romanesque building; it is decorated with the coats-of-arms of the lands of Wenceslas IV (in the direction of the bridge: Lion of Luxem-bourg, Lion of Bohemia and Eagle of Moravia; two coats-of-arms of the Old Town of Prague below; in the direction of the Lesser Town: Eagle of the Vratislavs, Lion of Bohemia, sign of Lower Lusatia and coat-of-arms of the Lesser Town below). The gate arch is decorated with stone leafy circles with a viola growing in the middle; a water-shoot protrudes above in the cor-nice below the castellation. A double-wing oak door used to be installed in the gate.