Bridge of the Legions
This bridge was opened in 1901 in the presence of the Emperor Franz Josef. And until the beginning of the First World War a fee was payable by anyone who wanted to cross the River Vltava. Only soldiers were exempt. The means of payment was the so-called bridge kreutzer, references to which can be found in works by a number of Prague writers. Franz Kafka mentions it, for example, in his diary record from 26. 12. 1911, where he states “on a small list of things which today can easily be shown as old-fashioned“. In his Prague Triptych Johannes Urzidil tells of how he always enjoyed it when, with an innocent expression on his face, he laid a kreutzer in the toll collectors’ flat palms covered in the thick mittens that were worn in heavy frosts. The collectors then noisily swore and cursed the Germans and Jews, while trying hard to keep these little coins with their clumsy, wide and thick gloves from falling to the ground. And Egon Erwin Kisch, in his column, Kreutzer across the Bridge (Krejcar přes most), describes how he and his nine fellow pupils got the collector angry by asking him to return the change from a twenty-crown note. It turned out they could not fulfil their civic duty and pay the bridge toll because the bridge keeper had slammed his booth shut. The most beautiful story concerning Prague bridges though was recounted by Jaroslav Hašek:
This guided walk is a part of the “Democracy on the Brink. Historical lessons from the late 1930s” project supported by the Europe for Citizens programme of the European Union.