The Reconstruction of the Historic Novomlýnská (New Mill) Water Tower and its Opening to the Public – Stage 1
With support from Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway through EEA and Norway Grants
The tower is closed to the public due to serious disrepair. At the beginning of 2014, the tower shell had to be covered with nets for security reasons. Prior to this, the shell was inspected by experts who removed loose sandstone fragments with the help of climbing technology. In 2014, the EEA and Norway Grants approved the City of Prague Museum’s request for subsidy and in 2015 the first stage of the historical reconstruction will begin. The project documentation for the reconstruction was prepared as part of the request in 2014. Furthermore, a public tender was announced to find contractors specializing in building and restoration. The adjacent facility is being leased to the Volunteer Fire Department of Prague 1.
As early as the 14th century, there were water mills on the site of today’s Nové mlýny (New Mills) Street where a road leading from the Gothic Church of St Clement turns towards the Vltava River. The mills were called New, as recorded in 1484. In addition to the New Mills, there were Lodní (Ship), Helmovské, and Lodecké Mills nearby. Most of them were razed in the early 20th century, depriving Prague of outstanding Renaissance architecture of a technical nature.
The water tower, which used to supply the lower New Town, is the only reminder of the original mills. The tower must have been erected after 1602 because in that year the provincial millers demanded that the New Town Council build new waterworks at New Mills. The water tower was equipped with a covered lookout platform with twelve windows; the space between them was decorated with portraits of Bohemian princes and kings from Přemysl the Ploughman to Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II. A similar depiction of Czech statehood appeared in an earlier sacral building, the Romanesque rotunda of St Catherine in Znojmo, featuring an unknown artist’s paintings of the Přemyslid rulers on the walls.
Regrettably, the lavishly decorated Late Renaissance tower was damaged on February 6, 1655 by a huge flood which led to the tower’s demolition. However, a new water tower was erected soon after. Emperor Ferdinand III even issued a decree on July 19, 1655 cutting the New Town taxes by 9,000 guldens and allowing the councillors to build a new water tower. In 1658, the tower was re-built in a Baroque style, but retained some original fragments. The recordings of 1827 reveal that the water tower was equipped with a new delivery facility. The water tower closed in 1877 while the nearby waterworks remained in operation until 1910. In 1878, the Dolejší (Lower) Waterworks was thoroughly reconstructed by the city of Prague.
The current appearance of the tower originated in 1658. It was built of quarried stone and covered with sandstone ashlars. There is a window on each floor; the top (sixth) floor, which used to be a water tank, has three windows on each wall. The tower has a tented roof with a copper spike on the top.