There are two mighty towers on the Lesser Town end of the Charles Bridge in Prague. The smaller one used to be a part of the Lesser Town fortification since the 12 th century and it is older than the predecessor of the Charles Bridge. You can see an interesting exhibition of the Charles Bridge history in the taller tower.
Romanesque Judith Tower
The smaller one of the Lesser Town Bridge Towers is also called Judith Tower. It has a Romanesque core and it was built earlier than the Judith Bridge, which used to span the river Vltava before the Charles Bridge was built. The Judith Tower was a part of the Romanesque fortification of the Vltava´s left bank.
The Judith Tower was rebuilt in Renaissance style in 1591. There was a dungeon for the worst delinquents inside at the time. Between the 16 th and the 18 th century it was used as a customs office. There is a unique set of engravings from the 13 th century preserved in the basement. This tower is not accessible to public.
There is a small house, called customhouse, near the Judith Tower. A late-Gothic relief, which used to decorate the tower till the 16 th century, is preserved there. The origin of the relief and its motive are unclear. There are two figures depicted there, almost life-sized: a sovereign on a throne and a kneeling man that seems to hand something over to the ruler or receive something from him. One possibility is that it represents Emperor Fridrich Barbarosa and kneeling King Vladislav II., receiving a king´s crown in 1158. He was one of the first Kings of Bohemia. Another theory says that the King Premysl Otakar II. is depicted there.
The taller bridge tower with a gallery
The taller Lesser Town Bridge Tower was built around 1464 on the expense of King George of Podebrady. It replaced the original Romanesque tower, that used to stand there. It was inspired by the Old Town Bridge Tower on the opposite end of the Charles Bridge, built by Petr Parler. It was used as a warning tower and a storage. The tower is 45 metres high and its gallery is situated 26 metres above the ground. You can visit it and see the exhibition mentioned above.
The gateway between the two towers leads to the Prague Lesser Town. It is decorated with symbols of countries under the reign of Wenceslas IV. The gateway was built after 1411 in the area of the previous Romanesque one.