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Jindrisska tower

New town - Prague 1 Category: Church towers

GPS: 50°5'6.72"N, 14°25'49.08"E

 

At the beginning of the New Town era, Prague only had two churches. The church of St. Henry and St. Kunhuta standing on one of three central squares today known as Senovazne Sq., was designated for the lower part of New Town. Even the steeple is not missing from the church construction. The steeple’s height is 46m today. Its walls were not strong enough though, to suspend heavy bells. That is why it was decided that a detached bell tower must be built, which we know as today’s Henry’s Tower. The foundation of this tower was laid in the time of Wenceslas IV., but the building works were interrupted during the Hussite wars. Its construction was completed under the rule of Vladislav Jegelonsky. The belfry suddenly became the pride of New Town. The outside walls are made from cut stone, the inside walls are from rubble stone.

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 with the exception of the bell known as Marie, were confiscated.

The bell tower steadily deteriorated and even in 20th century its utilization was minimal. In the mid 9O’s the Henry’s 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 steeple-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 Manousek 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 standing at 65 meters was made accessible to the public on 7th December 2002.