My little travel guide to the central Prague’s Bridges with their history and fascinating stories from when they were built.
Whilst Charles Bridge is the most famous Prague bridge, there are other bridges in the historic centre of Prague that are definitely worth exploring.
Most of Prague’s bridges are named after famous people and all have a fascinating history, which helps to paint a picture of how Prague has developed through the centuries.
How many bridges are in Prague?
There are a grant total of 17 bridges in Prague across the Vltava river.
The oldest bridge is the one that everyone knows – the Charles Bridge in the centre of Prague.
The most recent bridge is a modern bridge connecting Stromovka Park with Troja side of the river with it’s ZOO, Botanical garden, vineyard and a picture gallery in a magnificent chateau. The Troja bridge was built in 2014 and it’s currently being re-build again (2022).
Where is the best view of the Prague bridges?
Well, you can’t see all of the bridges at the same time, but you get to see quite a few beautifully lined up from a great view point on the Letna Park (see my photo below).
It’s a magical place to watch the sun go down any time of the year and there is lots more to do than just watch the beautiful Prague’s view.
The most famous bridges in the centre of Prague
Palacky’s Bridge (Palackeho Most)
Palacky’s Bridge was built at the end of the 19 century and is the 3rd oldest bridge over the river Vltava (counting only existing bridges). It was built to connect then industrial (but very prosperous) Smichov with Prague.
The Ringhoffer’s factory (the main Smichov employer and producer of cars, trams and heavy industry elements) even supplied material to build the bridge. I found out that the bridge was originally painted in bright colours, but unfortunately, once the colours faded, they were not restored.
There were once statues on this bridge, but because they were damaged in the second world war bombing, they were later moved to Vysehrad Park. You can still see them today – they were inspired by Czech folk stories and they are the statues of Ctirad, Sarka, Libuse, Premysl and others.
It was also the first bridge that in 1883 had the first horse-drawn tramway line.
My favourite fun fact (apart from the tram, of course!) is that Albert Einstein would have used this bridge on his daily commute to his university. He studied in Prague in 1911-12 and lived in Smichov.
Travelling on the tram (10, 16, 5 and others) you get a view of Prague Castle and the town on one side and Vysehrad and the Vysehrad Railway Bridge (which takes trains from the Main Train Station to Smichov Train Station) on the other.
Jirasek’s bridge is the next one on the Vltava river and it’s a fairly modern one. It was built in 1930s originally for the tram line, cars and pedestrians, but pretty much straight away the tram line was removed as it wasn’t needed. Later on the bridge carried the only trolley bus line that was connecting both sides of the Vltava river.
Since there is no tram line on this bridge now, you probably won’t use it for crossing the river, but if you wanted to, this bridge is the one closest to the famous Dancing House of Ginger & Rogers.
When the plans for the bridge were drawn, there was a baroque house (on the Smichov side) that was in the way of the new bridge pathway. The house was apparently built by the famous Killian Ignac Dientzenhofer. There were plans to move the house about 110 metres to one side and rebuilt it there.
Unfortunately, no insurance company wanted to take this on as a job in case there were problems and damages caused to the house whilst it was being moved. The worse thing is that because of that the house was demolished instead!
The bridge also contained secret hollow pipes in a couple of the bridge pillars, which were designed so that the bridge can be blown to pieces if needed. These hollow pipes were filled in by the German occupant army because they were worried that the Czech people might use it against them to sabotage their invasion.
The Legion Bridge
You are most likely to come across the Legion Bridge on your visit to Prague, because it’s the one that’s the closest to the National Theatre (the one with the golden roof) and connect Ujezd (where you come down from Petrin or use the Petrin Cable car) and the theatre side of Prague. It has a great view of the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle.
There are plenty of trams going across and if you use the no.22 to go to Prague Castle from the centre, you will travel over this bridge too.
I often walk across when I visit the Shooter’s Island, which only accessible from the middle of the bridge.
The Legion Bridge was opened in 1901 and the four little houses (two on each ends of the bridge) were originally for collecting a toll money for crossing the bridge.
My super cool photo of the bridge (even if I say so myself!) is from the top of the National Theatre roof, where you can get the perfect view of the bridge, the Petrin Hill and the Prague Castle.
Well, where do we start about the most famous bridge in Prague? It’s the one that you simply have to visit at least once on your trip to Prague. It’s the most talked-about one in the travel guides, the most photographed one and the most crowded one!
If you want to avoid the crowds, plan your walk across very early in the morning (by early I mean before or around the sun rise, which is 6-7.30 am in the winter and 4-5.30 in the summer). Even then I’m sure you won’t be the only person there!
You’ll meet photographers, some with serious camera gear, some with just their phones, few drunken tourist that never made it to bed and occasionally foreign tourist taking wedding photos! It’s not that they just got married, but apparently, Charles Bridge was featured in a popular Japanees or Chinesse film where the main characters got married in Prague on the bridge – hence everyone wants to take proto there!
Since there is so much to say about Charles Bridge you’ll find more details in my next blog post.
Manes bridge connects Old Town Square access on one side with the side with Prague Castle. Trams no 18, 2 and others travel accross and you can use it if you want to walk from the Old Town Square to Prague Castle (accessing the castle by the old stairs) leaving out the Kings route via Charles Bridge and Lesser Town Square (and access to the caste via Nerudova Street, for example).
The bridge was built in 1914 as the nearby Charless Bridge become too busy and couldn’t cope with the traffic (at the time Charless Bridge was used by not only pedestrians but also by cars and trams!)
The bridge is named after a famous Czech painter – Josef Manes.
You can get to Cech’s Bridge from the Old Town Square, pass the Jewish Quarter and it will take you accross the Vltava River to exactly to where (above) the old Stalin Statue used to stand in the Letna Park. Now it’s a great place to climb up to and view the Prague and all the central bridges accross the Vltava river.
The Cech’s bridge was built between 1905-1908 and it’s construction was at the time quite challenging. Because the river is quite fast in that area, the bridge support pillars had to be designed and build with slightly different dimensions to withstand the river flow.
If you look closely, you might be able to see that the width of the arches is growing from about 47 m to 59 m as they span accross the river. The rest of the bridge support was also calibrated differently depending on the resistance and the strength of the river flow in each part of the river.
Cech’s bridge is the only bridge in Prague that is build purely from steel.
This is a moder wide bridge which is always very busy with cars, trams, but only few pedestrians are using it. It was build in the 1950’s and whilst it connects both sides of Vltava river is also directly linked to the Letna car tunnel.
If you walk toward the Vltava river from the Republic Square where the Paladium Shopping centre is and the more traditional Kotva department store is, you will get to the Stefanik’s Bridge, which will take you to the bottom of the Letna Park.
You can also take the number 15 or 6 and other trams across if you don’t fancy the walk.
Unlike most of the other Prague bridges, Hlavka’s Bridge was never renamed and kept it’s name right from the beginning when it was built in 1910.
Prague bridges outside of the centre
There are of course more bridges over the Vltava river outside the centre of Prague, but you probably won’t see most of these. Towards the Prague 5 and beyond you’d find the Zavodu Miru bridge, Radotin Bridge, Branik Bridge, Barrandov Bridge and Vysehrad Railway Bridge.
It’s worth mentioning that the Branik Bridge is also known as the Bridge of Intelligence because when it was being built in the mid 50s the majority of workers were doctors, lawyers, teachers, writers, actors who because of their political views or because there was no need for them in the new communist way of working world, were forced into manual type of jobs, such as builders and labourers. This was the reason why the bridge is called the bridge of Intelligence.
The idea of bridging the two sides of Vltava at Branik (and Mala Chuchle on the other side) was already born in the beginning of the 20th century. The first projects were put together in the 1920s but if wasn’t until after the second world war, when the Czech government decided that the newly deployed intelligent labourers need something useful to do. If you can detect sarcasm in my voice, then you’d be right…
As a result of this decision, the work began without the plans being finalised! This is why, the bridge was built for 2 lines of railway and pedestrian walkway, but only one trackbed of the railway line was actually layed. The bridge was opened in 1964.
Today, the bridge is mainly used for goods trains or when the trains are on diversion from Beroun to Prague.
There is also a green tourist path that you can follow from Branik to Mala Chuchle and beyond.
Toward the opposite part of the Prague – towards Prague 6 and beyond, you can also find the Negrelli Railway Viadukt (which is used by trains travelling from Masarykovo Train Station – one of the main three train stations in Prague) , Liben Bridge, Holesovice Railway Bridge and Troja Bridge