Karlín and Holešovice Now Connected by the Long-Awaited HolKa Bridge

Barbora M. Votavová | 11.08.2023
It’s been two weeks since the 300 metre-long bridge between Karlín and Holešovice opened, connecting both neighbourhoods and the Štvanice Island for those on foot or on bikes. HolKa, as the bridge is known, was opened on July 28 by representatives of Prague’s City Hall, Prague 7, Prague 8, and co-designers Petr Tej and Marek Blank. Construction began last January and the cost totalled CZK 352 million.

Getting to Holešovice from Karlín wasn’t easy in the past for bikers and pedestrians. Up to now, they were connected by the Negrelliho railway viaduct and the very busy Hlávkův Bridge, which is accessible, but the heavy traffic and noise made that a very unpleasant experience. Furthermore, the other way around through Rohanský ostrov and over Libeňský Bridge is simply too long. However, this new bridge over the Vltava River changes all of that, and there are plans for an even more extensive renewal on the island with a large new park.

It also wasn’t easy to get to Štvanice. There was the HolKa ferry that run in the summer, which is where the bridge got its name. However, its official name is the Štvanická bridge, named for the island it crosses, and there is a turn-off to the island. Most people still call it HolKa, possibly because its opening meant the end of the ferry.

On the Holešovice side, the bridge is directly across from the entrance to the Holešovice market, and it connects to the cycling path leading along the flood barriers on the Karlín side. The bridge spans 38m between Karlín and Štvanice, 149m between Štvanice and Holešovice, as well as about 70m over the island. It’s comprised of more than 50 segments made in a cement factory that were delivered and then assembled.

The bridge is made of ultra-high strength concrete, which architect Petr Tej said is a special composite material with excellent mechanic parameters: its resilient, frost-proof, and solid. The surface is excellent, protecting the bridge from water damage, and it looks a bit like white marble. Tej designed the bridge in cooperation with Marek Blank and Jan Mourek.

The bridge also features artworks including the River sculpture by Jan Hendrych. It’s 185cm tall and is located on a high pedestal near the end of the ramp to Štvanice. It’s also made from ultra-high strength concrete. “It’s the first sculpture in the world made this way. It’s a very solid material, so it will certainly last. The demand was for it to be abstract,” Jan Hendrych said. A bronze handrail is decorated with the heads of rabbits on Štvanice, bulls in Holešovice, and horses in Karlín, all by sculptor Aleš Hvízdal.

The HolKa Bridge is the 20th bridge to cross the entire breadth of the Vltava. The last bridge to open was the Troja Bridge connecting Císařský Island and Troja in October 2020, replacing the original bridge that collapsed in 2017. The city is also currently building the Dvorecký Birdge that will connect Smíchov and Podolí for pedestrians, cyclists, mass transit, and emergency services.

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