What Decorated the Old Town Bridge Tower East End in the 1620s?
In June 1621, the Old Town Bridge Tower was "decorated" with 12 human heads!
It happened after the loss of Bohemian Estates during the Battle of White Mountain on November 8th, 1620. This battle was the most disastrous military campaign in Czech history and the beginning of the bloody Thirty Years War, that split Europe into Catholic and Protestant camps. After their loss, Czech Protestants were exiled and banned from practicing their religion. 27 members of the Czech Anti-Habsburg Uprising were executed on the Old Town Square on June 21st, 1621. The heads of 12 of these rebels were put into iron caskets and displayed on the eastern side of the Old Town Bridge Tower for 10 years to warn their sympathizers.
Facts about Old Town Bridge Tower, Prague
- The Old Town Tower of the Charles Bridge was built in 1357 in a late Gothic style and is believed to be one of the most beautiful structures of this kind in Europe!
- The Old Town Tower was constructed from sandstone by Peter Parler's workshop, the same one that built St. Vitus Cathedral in the Prague Castle.
- The tower is 47 meters tall, has 138 steps and no elevator.
- Like everything built in the time of Charles IV, the Old Town Tower also has a secret meaning in its structure. The tower is divided into sections that represent terrestrial, lunar, solar, and celestial spheres.
- The ground floor or terrestrial sphere is decorated with 10 shields that represent countries that Charles IV ruled over. They are (from left to right) Nisa region, Silesia, Schweidnitz, Moravia, Holy Roman Empire, Bohemia, Luxembourg, Gorlitz region, Upper Lusatia, Lower Lusatia.
- The first floor of the tower has statues of Charles IV, St. Vitus, and Wenceslas IV below the pointed arch with 24 decorative crabs that represent 24 hours of the day.
- The top floor has 24 stars and Czech patron saints Adalbert and Sigmund.
- The western facade was damaged by the Swedish army in 1648 when they tried to attack the Old Town of Prague in the last phase of the Thirty Years War. The Old Town fought back and later received a new city symbol and a plaque on the western side of the Bridge Tower.
Old Town Bridge Tower, Prague - Entrance Fee
- The ticket to the Old Town Tower costs 100 CZK for adults, and 70 CZK for kids and seniors.
- The last entrance to the tower is 30 minutes before closing time.
- We recommend checking the opening hours on the Prague City Tourism official website.
Our Local Guide Tip
- The view from the Old Town Bridge is always stunning, but the sunset will blow your mind!
- We recommend saving at least an hour to visit this tower since they have a small museum included in the price of the ticket.
- When you are almost at the top of the tower staircase, check out the statue of a Keykeeper, who is lifting his skirt!
Check out another famous Prague Tower, Powder Tower.
See more of our Prague Travel Tips.
Author: Valeriia Zahradnikova and Vaclav Zahradnik, Prague guides certified by Prague City Tourism agency. Valeriia and Vaclav have worked in tourism for over 6 years and have guided thousands of Prague visitors.