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BRIDGE OF PALACKY

GPS: 50°4'22.08"N, 14°24'42.12"E

In seventies of 19th century one of big road problems of Prague at that time came to solution; it was connection of industrial fast-developing Smíchov to Prague New Town. A ferry, which used to be in this place for centuries, was not satisfying any more. So in 1871 a cooperative was established to build a new bridge over the river of Vltava. A bit later on 13th May 1876, a foundation stone was laid ceremoniously for this substantial construction. Design was elaborated by Czech technicians, ing. Josef Reiter and arch. Bedřich Münzberger. Construction was realized by Vienna companies Klein, Schmoll and Gartner within two and a half year. And it was the first time, when pneumatically controlled caissons were used for settlement of the bridge pillars in the river bed in Prague; the caissons were delivered by company Ringhoffer. The new bridge, named in the honour of Czech historian František Palacký, was opened twice; first the ceremony was on Sunday 1st December 1878 and it was closed soon after for completion of stonework. Then, it was quietly handed over to traffic on 22nd December in the same year.

The new bridge, as it was generally stated, had a very nice architectural solution, the length between the off-shore pillars was 229 m and it had width of 11,40 m including 1,58 m wide pavements. Its narrow transit profile became an object of critics from the very beginning. Not until 1950-1951 it underwent partial extension, realized by lying of pavement on both sides of the bridge with reinforced-concrete brackets. However, the bridge architecture was kept. But its width is the biggest weakness of the bridge regarding the present traffic.

Earlier the bridge was completed not only with stone booths for the bridge fees collector, but also large sculptures by Josef Václav Myslbek. They were successively settled there in 1889-1897, on the side of Smíchov there were Záboj and Slavoj, Ctirad and Šárka, at the side of New Town there were Libuše and Přemysl, Lumír and Píseň. The sculptures were damaged in February 1945 during air-attack of allied planes in Prague. They were placed in orchards in Vyšehrad after having been restored.