1912: Prague’s Hlávka Bridge opens

Hlávka Bridge

Hlávka Bridge, the first concrete bridge across the Vltava in Prague, was opened 110 years ago.

Portrait of Josef Hlávka | Photo: ŠJů,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY 4.0 DEED

The structure was named after builder and philanthropist Josef Hlávka and is unusual in the Czech context in never having had its name changed.

In addition to the well-known architect Pavel Janák, several other prominent artists took part in the construction of the bridge.

Above the pillars on Štvanice Island are 2.5 metre high reliefs of human bodies, carved directly into the concrete masonry, by Bohumil Kafka and Ladislav Kofránek, students of the important Czech sculptor Josef Václav Myslbek.

Another decoration consists of medallions by sculptors Josef Mařatka and Otto Gutfreund bearing portraits of 12 Prague councillors involved in the bridge's construction.

Hlávka Bridge | Photo repro: Český svět 26. 1. 1912

However, the Hlávka Bridge is dominated by massive granite sculptures by sculptor Jan Štursa, entitled "Work" and "Humanity", located on the bridgehead on the Holešovice side.

The bridge, which has carried trams since 1912, consists of seven arches, three above the river and four over Štvanice.

At the turn of the 1960s, the bridge underwent extensive reconstruction. It was almost doubled in width (to 28m), and an iron structure between Těšnov and Štvanice was replaced by reinforced concrete.