Nuselský Most (Nusle Bridge)

Since the nineteenth century, various solutions had been proposed for a bridge to link central Prague with the southern suburb of Pankrác, spanning the third-of-a-mile-wide Botič valley.

Architects Stanislav Bechyně and Bohumír Kozák produced an elegant triple arch in 1919, and in the years that followed, both Jan Koteřa and Josef Havlíček independently came up with ingenious designs incorporating housing into the bridge structure.

However it was the plan of Stanislav Hubička which prevailed, and between 1967 and 1973, four reinforced concrete pillars arose, towering 150 feet above the streets of Nusle. In total, seventeen apartment blocks were cleared to make way for the new construction. The bridge was designed from the start to carry not only the six-lane ‘Magistrála’ highway, but also, in a tubular section suspended below the carriageway, the southern line of the Prague Metro between I.P Pavlova and Vyšehrad stations.

In an extraordinary test of the load-bearing capacity of the new bridge (originally named after Czechoslovakia’s first communist president Klement Gottwald), sixty-six Russian-built tanks were driven up and down the highway 600 times. In the immediate aftermath of the 1968 Soviet invasion, it’s easy to imagine how such an experiment would have been eyed with suspicion and disdain.