Saint Henry Tower

Saint Henry TowerSaint Henry Tower (Jindřišská věž in Czech) is a 65 metres high belfry of the Church of Saint Henry on Senovážné Square and at the beginning of Jindřišská street (which literally means Saint Henry Street).

The church of St Henry does have its owm steeple (46 metres high). However, when it was built, it was clear that its walls were not strong enough to suspend heavy bells. Therefore it was decided to build a detached bell tower, which we today know as Saint Henry Tower. The foundation of this tower was laid in the time of King Wenceslas IV, but the building works were interrupted during the Hussite wars. Its construction was completed under the rule of Vladislav II. The belfry then became the pride of New Town.

Across the centuries the tower saw many adversities including the weather and enemy bombing. The tower in all its grandiosity was an easy target. Bells suffered during wars not least because they represented an easy supply of metal. In fact every bell in Prague were confiscated with the exception of the bell known as Marie here on Saint Henry Tower.

The bell tower steadily deteriorated and in 20th century its utilization was minimal. In the mid-1990s the Henry Tower Society Ltd. entered the scene, and acquired a long term lease of the tower on the condition that the former belfry will be accessible to citizens and visitors of Prague. A self-supporting iron-concrete construction was built inside the tower. This tower within a tower is equipped with air-conditioning, lighting and a high speed lift. On its ten floors there are coffee shops, restaurants and sanitary facilities. The restored historical bell Marie is a part of today’s restaurant Zvonice. On the 10th floor, (the highest) under the ancient roof, is an exceptionally beautiful observatory. A chime made of ten bells and created by bell founder Petr Rudolf Manoušek is also housed here. This chime has in its program hundreds of different melodies. It is possible to play it through a fingerboard or manually. At the end of March 2003 the tower clock started to function again. The clock has four mechanisms. Every clock-face has its own mechanism and they are synchronized together by computer.

The highest detached belfry in Prague was made accessible to the public on 7th December 2002.

 

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