Judith Tower

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJudith Tower (Juditina věž in Czech) is one of the two towers at the western end of the Charles Bridge as an ancient gate to the Lesser Town (Malá Strana) together with the newer and taller Lesser Town Bridge Tower. It was named after Queen Judith, wife of king Vladislav I. It has a Romanesque core and it was built earlier than the Judith Bridge, which used to span the river Vltava before the Charles Bridge was built. The Judith Tower was a part of the Romanesque fortification of the Vltava´s left bank. It ranks among the oldest preserved buildings in Prague. The tower sustains of 3 floors and it is built from arenaceous marl aisler. The height of the tower from the bottom to the top of its saddle roof is 29.3 m.

The Judith Tower was rebuilt in Renaissance style in 1591 – roof gables on both sides of its roof and graphite rendering. From the beginning of the 15th century, the tower was used as a jail for the worst delinquents and it retained this role for another two hundred years. Between the 16th and the 18th century it was used as a customs office. There is a unique set of engravings from the 13th century preserved in the basement. This tower is not ordinarily accessible to public. The Club for Old Prague gained rooms in Judith’s Tower in 1927 and is settled here until today. The club was established already on 28th January 1900 as a protest and defence against destruction of building and cultural values.

There is a small house, called customhouse, next to the Judith Tower. It was built at the same time as the Rennaissance reconstruction of the tower itself. Today the only available access to the tower is through this house. A late-Gothic relief, which used to decorate the tower till the 16th century, is preserved there. The origin of the relief and its motive are unclear. There are two figures depicted there, almost life-sized: a sovereign on a throne and a kneeling man that seems to hand something over to the ruler or receive something from him. One possibility is that it represents Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa and kneeling King Vladislav I., receiving a king´s crown in 1158. He was one of the first Kings of Bohemia. Another theory says that the King Premysl Otakar II. is depicted there.

In the ground floor of the customhouse there is a small bookshop where you can buy various books about Prague and its historical monuments.

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Learn next about the Lesser Town Bridge Tower.

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