The Bridge of Mánes had its predecessor, so-called Iron footbridge, which used to several meters farther down on the river of Vltava. Stock cooperative play an important role in the construction of that and it was realized in 1868-1869. The footbridge, built under command of ing. F. Schön and arch. K. Wesselý, had two pillars on the shores and one in the river bed. It was 192 m long, with a bridge deck of width of 3,35 m. It was suspended on chains and determined solely for the pedestrian traffic. It was functioning reliably until 1914, when the present Bridge of Mánes was finished in close proximity to that; this bridge also connects the Old Prague Town, in this case it is Alšovo embankment and the Square of Jan Palach with Klárov in the Lesser Town.
Vigorous disputes, regarding the structure type, building material and number of bays, had preceded the construction of this Prague Bridge. There was the only unified opinion that potential iron arches realized above the bridge deck are inadmissible. Regarding the close panorama of the Prague Castle they were considered as insurmountable aesthetic eyesore.
The bridge was constructed according to design by ing. F. Mencl and ing. A. Nový, with co-operation of arch. P. Janák, V. Hofman and ing. M. Petrů. Work was started by settlement of pillars on 19th June 1911. There were four bridge segmental arches and their dimensions ranged from 38 m to 42 m. The bridge deck, frames and fenders which bore the outer edge of the arch, were of reinforced concrete. Width of the bridge between the rails, including the pavement, was 15,55 m, length of the bridge was 186,55 m. The bridge was put into operation on 11th March 1914 and named after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. Then in 1920 it was named in the honour of Czech painter Josef Mánes (1820-1871).
Leading Czech sculptors, such as F. Bílek, J. Mařatka, J. Štursa and others, participated in art decoration. On both sides of the Old-Town access road there are small fountains by academic sculptor Emil Halmon.