Prague's HolKa footbridge finally opens: Here's a first look

Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda and Deputy Mayor Zdeněk Hřib were among the first to cross the new footbridge linking Holešovice and Karlín.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 28.07.2023 16:29:00 (updated on 28.07.2023) Reading time: 4 minutes

People in Prague can now shorten their journey from Holešovice to Karlín via a 300-meter-long footbridge that connects the neighborhoods via the Štvanice Island.

The footbridge for pedestrians and cyclists was ceremonially opened today by Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, Deputy Mayor Zdeněk Hřib, representatives of the Prague 7 and 8 districts, and architects Petr Tej and Marek Blank. The official name of the footbridge is HolKa, a portmanteau of Holešovice and Karlín.

A small crowd gathered at noon by the Holešovice entrance, but had to wait. Photo: Raymond Johnston
A small crowd gathered at noon by the Holešovice entrance, but had to wait. Photo: Raymond Johnston

Svoboda and Hřib were among the first people to cross the bridge, using shared bicycles to make the trip. Members of the public who showed up at noon at the Holešovice and Karlín sides to be the first across were disappointed. They had to wait until the end of the VIP ceremony on the island before the gates at both ends finally opened around 1 p.m.

The footbridge cost about CZK 352 million and is the 20th bridge across the entire width of the Vltava Rider in Prague. At the same time, the P7 ferry connecting Holešovice to Karlín has ceased operation as it is no longer needed.

Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda rides across the bridge. Photo: Raymond Johnston
Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda rides across the bridge. Photo: Raymond Johnston

Mayor Svoboda said the footbridge will make life easier and more pleasant for many people. "In addition, the construction is unique in terms of the approaches used, and after recent stress tests, I hope that the construction is also safe. It also fits into the concept of the city of short distances," Svoboda said.

Recent trends in urban planning call for people to be able to access everything they need within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from where they live.

Deputy Mayor Zdeněk Hřib rides a bike across the footbridge. Photo: Raymond Johnston
Deputy Mayor Zdeněk Hřib rides a bike across the footbridge. Photo: Raymond Johnston

A few artistic touches

Deputy Mayor Hřib, responsible for transportation issues, pointed out some of the technical details, such as the backlit bronze railings that end with stylized animal elements. The handrails at the Holešovice entrance have cow heads, while the Štvanice ramp has rabbits, and the Karlín entrance has horses.

Cow head on the bridge railing. Photo: Raymond Johnston
Cow head on the bridge railing. Photo: Raymond Johnston

There is also a new sculpture called River (Řeka) at the entrance to the Štvanice ramp by 85-year-old sculptor Jan Hendrych, which was financed by the Prague City Gallery. The abstract sculpture is made out of the same ultra-high-strength concrete as the footbridge. It is the first artwork to use this material.

Hřib also said that while the footbridge will serve mainly pedestrians and cyclists, it was built to also withstand the weight of the emergency service vehicles.

River by sculptor Jan Hendrych. Photo: Raymond Johnston
River by sculptor Jan Hendrych. Photo: Raymond Johnston

The island will also undergo transformations

Deputy Mayor Petr Hlaváček, responsible for zoning issues, said that Štvanice Island will be renovated and that a manual for the changes has finally been approved. Among other things, the shores of the island will become more accessible. "Our long-term vision is for Štvanice to be a landscaped green recreational zone, where the people of Prague can come to spend their free time, do sports, or enjoy culture," he said.

Prague 7 Mayor Jan Čižinský pointed out that plans for a bridge were first made 120 years ago, so finally completing it is an accomplishment. Prague 8 Ondřej Gros said connecting the districts and the island was a benefit for everyone.

Construction on the bridge began in January 2022, and the structure is made of white ultra-high-quality concrete with an anti-graffiti coating. Its walking width is four meters, and three meters at the ramp to Štvanice Island.

HolKa bridge in the direction toward Karlín. Photo: Raymond Johnston
HolKa bridge in the direction toward Karlín. Photo: Raymond Johnston

Between Karlín and Štvanice, the footbridge spans the 38-meter-wide Vltava riverbed, and between Štvanice and Holešovice, the width of the riverbed is 149 meters. The last span of the bridge on the Holešovice side can be raised so that it can withstand the flow of a thousand-year flood. The structure also has small joints through which rainwater can drain.

New materials and new technologies

Michal Jurka, president of Skanska Central Europe, said the biggest challenge was the combination of unique technologies. Ultra-high-quality concrete has not been used anywhere in Europe on such a large project before. "We are very happy that we could hand over a high-quality bridge of world-class parameters to Prague," Jurka said.

AGENCY PROPERTIES

Family house for sale, 139m<sup>2</sup>, 292m<sup>2</sup> of land

Family house for sale, 139m2, 292m2 of land

Zámecká, Jablonec nad Nisou - Vrkoslavice

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 64m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for rent, 2+kk - 1 bedroom, 64m2

Albrightové, Praha 5 - Smíchov

Apartment for sale, 4+kk - 3 bedrooms, 131m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for sale, 4+kk - 3 bedrooms, 131m2

Starochodovská, Praha 4 - Chodov

Apartment for sale, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 100m<sup>2</sup>

Apartment for sale, 3+kk - 2 bedrooms, 100m2

Pecháčkova, Praha 5 - Smíchov

On the Holešovice side, the footbridge can be entered from Bubenské nábřeží across from the entrance to the Holešovice Market. From Karlín, it is accessible via the cycle path on the Rohanské nábreží.

Until now, people could only get from Karlín to Holešovice on foot via the busy Hlávkův Bridge or by a detour through Rohanský ostrov and the Libeň Bridge. Štvanice was only accessible from the Hlávkův Bridge or by ferry. The footbridge will also be a link for cyclists, as it will connect the city’s main cycle paths on both banks of the Vltava.

HolKa footbridge between Holešovice and Štvanice. Photo: Raymond Johnston
HolKa footbridge between Holešovice and Štvanice. Photo: Raymond Johnston

The bridge was originally supposed to open at the end of 2022, but faced several delays in part due to the use of new technology and also the project being more complex than originally planned.

The last time the city opened a bridge was in October 2020 when the Troja footbridge connected Císařský ostrov and Prague Zoo. The structure replaced the original one, which collapsed in December 2017. Currently, the city is also building the Dvorecký Bridge, which will connect Smíchov and Podolí, and only allow pedestrians, cyclists, public transport, and emergency vehicles.  

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more