Podcast
Ep5: Suicide Bridge
February 01, 2020
This story will make happy all you fans of the modern architecture as well as the urban legend hunters. Nusle Bridge is one of the weirdest and most ambitious things ever built in Prague. But there is a hitch: The amazing bridge structure has its gloomy side, too. In its 50 years history, a few hundred people decided to end their life by jumping from its sidewalk.

Find the place: Suiside bridge location

Listen on Spotify: Suicide Bridge podcast

1. Communist showcase
This bridge from 1973 was a showcase of what then was a communist country - its planning ability; its focus on volumes of concrete; its sovereignity over natural conditions. There are four lanes and two sidewalks on the surface. There is a tunnel for subway inside the bridge. The bridge was even awarded the Transportation Construction of the 20th Century in the Czech Republic, long after communist party waned away.
2. Four overstressed pillars
There are only four sleek pillars that bear the nearly 1/2 kilometer long viaduct. But the pillars (each is made of four columns as you can see) in fact "carry" the bridge instead of "bearing it". It is another great case of the overstressed concrete - ie concrete used together with steel ropes and the structure is hanging on it. The overstressed muscles stand behind skyscrapers and megabridges of the last century – including this great Nusle Bridge.
3. It seemed to be "dream come true"
First it seemed like dream becoming reality. The bridge shortened the travel between two oposite hills to minimum. It takes 10 mins walking and under 1 min driving. And the subway line that goes through the bridge is a cherry on the cake.
4. The downside
What was the downside? There is an old quarter in the valley. Although the houses are as high as 6 floors, they reach only about half of the bridge. After the construction, life in this tucked quarter was never the same. It gave the valley an utmost surreal atmosphere.
5. Dream turned into nightmare
What is the secret life of the Nusle Bridge? In reality the technical wonder is not a success story in all respects. In common language, the bridge is not called "100 Years Construction." It has gained another, a rather disturbing nickname - a suicide bridge. Many people decided to step into the void - into 42 metres of free fall. The estimates reach between 200 - 300 people.
6. Memento Mori
A few years ago, Krystof Kintera erected a lamp under the bridge. But just as the bridge is not just a "bridge", this lamp is not just a "lamp." This one is different, and its head is turned up. To the sky. To the bridge. It is as if, after so many fatal jumps, a lifeless thing is making sure that this is it and nobody will follow suit. The name of the lamp says it all - Memento Mori.
7. One meter
The communist regime had the people's wellbeing in its title, so they could not admit that there exist people unable to live on in a socialist country. So the railings – just 1 meter high – remained despite the death toll rising. After the communist regime broke down, further fencing was added, heightening the barrier to 2.7 m. Later, the fencing was topped off with a 3-foot-wide strip (0.91 m) of polished metal to make it near-impossible to climb.
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