The Best Bridges in Prague

by Mar 5, 2020

The most famous of all bridges in Prague is where many people start their Prague sightseeing. The Charles Bridge in Prague is one of the most popular landmarks of Prague, its rows of statues and the Old Town Prague skyline one of the most memorable Prague sights of all. It’s one of the most beautiful bridges in Europe, not to mention one of the best viewpoints in Prague. But be warned, it’s very, very popular. Indeed.

We’ve lived in Prague for several months, and most days we’ve taken a tram into the city passing several other Prague bridges over the River Vltava every day. Some of them also have great views down river to Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral. For many, the Charles Bridge is the only Prague bridge they get to see. It is the best of them, but there are also several other bridges Prague has which are well worth going out of your way to see.

We’ll show you every bridge in Prague worth seeing, and also tell you which places they connect, where they lead and what you can see from them. Enjoy this trip down the famous Prague river, and a discover a new way to see one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

How many bridges in Prague are there?

 There are 18 Prague bridges across the Vltava river in total, from the Troja Bridge in the north (if you’ve been to Prague Zoo, you’ve crossed this) to Zbraslav bridge in the south, on the border between Prague and Central Bohemia.

Where does the Vltava river in Prague flow from and to?

The river Vltava flows from the south of the Czech Republic, through the lovely town of Cesky Krumlov, to the capital, Prague.  It continues its journey northwards from there to Melnik, where it flows into the river Elbe.

The Elbe then continues into Germany, passing through Dresden and Hamburg before flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven.

Charles Bridge Prague

We begin at the Charles Bridge, Karluv Most in Czech. It’s far and away the most famous bridge in Prague. A little Charles Bridge history – it was started by King Charles IV in 1357 and completed in 1402. It was partly inspired by the Ponte Sant’ Angelo in Rome, which is lined with statues of angels.

The Charles Bridge statues we now see date from the early 18th century onwards, with some being added well into the 19th century.

In our article on Prague photography, we recommend the Charles Bridge as one of the best places in Prague to shoot. It links the Old Town (Stare Mesto) with the Lesser Town (Mala Strana), both of which are visually breathtaking.  Prague has long been known as the City of a Hundred Spires, and there must be at least as many statues (thirty on the Charles Bridge alone).

As you look towards the Old Town, the skyline is fairytale in its beauty, with some of the finest churches in Prague, the dome of St Francis Church, the spires of St Salvator and the Old Town Bridge Tower making such an arresting sight. Together with the statues on Charles Bridge, they make one of the best silhouettes and most beautiful cityscapes in the world.

The view in the other direction, towards Mala Strana, is also exceptionally beautiful. The Mala Strana skyline is dominated by the Lesser Town Bridge Tower and the domed Baroque St Nicholas Church, with the defensive might of Prague Castle looming high above.

The towers at either end of the Bridge are great viewpoints. We recommend the Old Town Bridge Tower (Staromestska mostecka vez) over the Lesser Town Tower as you see more from there – the Bridge, Castle and Mala Strana in one direction and a few of those hundred spires in the other.

You’ll notice that the Charles Bridge can be exceedingly crowded. It is Tourist Central. It’s a pedestrian-only bridge, and there are painters, caricature artists and even a New Orleans jazz band there to divert and entertain. We were surprised to find that it’s very busy with people, even while visiting Prague in winter. One morning I was up at the crack of dawn for sunrise, and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a phalanx of photographers parked out on the Bridge, tripods up and mounted.

The Charles Bridge is unmissable. It’s one of the best two or three places to see in Prague, and dawn and dusk are the best times to see it. 

Legion Bridge Prague – Legii Most

We passed the Legion Bridge on the tram a great many times, and soon went exploring. It’s one of the most eye-catching bridges of Prague, partly because of the domed towers on both sides at either end of the Bridge.

It’s named after the Czechoslovak Legion, who fought for independence from the Habsburg Empire during the First World War. It dates from the turn of the 20th century, and has Baroque style balustrades and Art Nouveau lamps.  It’s a road bridge on which trams also run.

The bridge links the splendid National Theatre with Ujezd, one of the main streets in Mala Strana. It’s only a short walk from there to Kampa Park and Island, and back to the Charles Bridge.

The east side of the bridge is magnificent, with Art Deco Café Slavia (also known as Kavarna Slavia) on one corner and the National Theatre (Narodni divadlo) on the other. Immediately to the south of the Theatre, Masarykove Nabrezi is one of the most beautiful streets in Prague, with some superb Art Nouveau mansions.

It also passes over Strelecky Ostrov (Shooter’s Island), which is used as a concert venue. 

Jirasek Bridge – Jiraskuv Most

The next bridge upstream, Jiraskuv Most, is named after the Czech writer Alois Jirásek, whose statue looks from the square named after him to the bridge. It was built between 1929 and 1931 to link the rapidly growing suburb of Smichov with Nove Mesto, the New Town of Prague.

On the Nove Mesto (east) side of the bridge, you’ll find the famous Dancing House (Tancici Dum), which was partly designed by Frank Gehry. It’s one of the most striking examples of modern Prague architecture, and Gehry nicknamed it Fred and Ginger. You can see what he meant – it does look like two people dancing, especially from the Jiraskovo Namesti side.

Around 200 metres from there, the Orthodox Cathedral of Saints Cyril and Methodius is one of the most important churches in Prague.  It’s best known as the site of the final shoot-out at which the Czechoslovak assassins of Nazi German governor Reinhard Heydrich were finally cornered and killed. The crypt of the church is now designated a national memorial site.

Jiraskuv Bridge is another good location if you’re looking for a different angle on Prague Castle downstream.

Palackého Most – Palacky Bridge

Palackého Most is the next Prague bridge upstream, linking the Nove Mesto and one of its main squares, Karlovo namesti, with the suburb of Smichov. The stone arched bridge is the second oldest in Prague, dating back to 1876.

The bridge is named after Czech historian František Palacky. It’s a busy road and tram bridge, and has great views to Prague Castle and, closer in, the Dancing House next to Jiraskuv most.

Down at river level, the embankment between Palackého and Vyšehrad bridges hosts the weekly Saturday Farmers Market, one of the best Prague markets.

Vyšehrad Railway Bridge

The Vyšehrad Railway Bridge was built in 1901 to improve rail links between the main Prague railway station, Praha hlavni nadrazi, and the station in Smichov. It also has pedestrian walkways each side, however it does not carry road traffic.

The bridge passes the Vyton tram stop and the Vyšehrad fort on the hill above. This castle and park is one of the best places to visit in Prague – it is home to one of the best parks in Prague, the oldest building in the city (the Romanesque Rotunda of St Martin) and the twin-spired Gothic revival splendour of St Peter and Paul church, a popular Prague landmark. The ramparts are the best place to view the railway bridge, with a great view downstream to Prague Castle as well.

Manes Bridge Prague – Manesuv Most

The Manes Bridge links one of the top sights in Prague, the grand Rudolfinum concert hall, with the northern end of Mala Strana, the Lesser Town.  It’s the first bridge north, or downstream, of the Charles Bridge.

It’s the closest bridge in our title shot, which was done in Letna Park, high above the river. It’s named after the 19th century Czech painter, Josef Manes.

As you cross the bridge, you approach St Vitus Cathedral almost end-on, and then continue towards Letenska, another of our favourite Prague streets, which leads towards Malostranske namesti, Lesser Town Square. The stunning Wallenstein Gardens and Palace are 200 metres from the bridge, and the Franz Kafka Museum  is a similar distance away to the left.

Čechuv Most – Svatopluk Cech Bridge

The Čech Bridge is one of my favourite places to go in Prague. It’s one of the best Art Nouveau Prague places to see, a gorgeous road bridge, which also has a tramway. It connects the Prague Old Town (Stare Mesto) with the suburb of Holešovice to the north.

The bridge is one of the most underrated Prague sites. It’s adorned with several exuberant statues and sculptures and a series of ornate lamp posts crowned by golden suns.

It leads to the steps and walkways up to Letna Park, one of the best parks in Prague. The Prague Metronome was built on the site in 1991. The space was, between 1955 and 1962, occupied by an enormous statue of ‘Uncle’ Josef Stalin, the ruthless Soviet dictator, and followers. Once he was discredited by the later regime of Nikita Khrushchev, the huge ensemble was blown up, to great celebrations among locals.

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