The most visited, a must-see, monument in the Czech Republic, Charles Bridge, together with the Castle and Lesser Quarter creates the world know panorama picture of Prague. The oldest Prague bridge crosses the Vltava river and connects two ancient town parts, Old Town and Lesser Quarter.
The bridge with 30 Baroque statues and statuaries of the saints is 516 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide. The Gothic-style stone bridge witnesses the medieval times. It was built by the Emperor Charles IV instead of the Romanesque wooden Judita's Bridge, built in the 12th century and named after the name after the wife of one's of Czech kings, that was badly damaged by a flood in 1342.
Historical sources say that the founding stone was laid personally by the Emperor Charles IV precisely on 9 July 1357, at 5:31am, recommended by astrologers and numerologists. If read digit after digit, the number could be stated 135797531. Newest research however come with the hypothesis that the construction was started by Master Otto and finished by Peter Parler in 1402.
Legend says that Charles IV ordered to put eggs into the mortar to make it more stronger and durable. Stone block from Bohemian sandstone were used to built the bridge.
Both ends of the bridge are fortified by three bridge towers (two Lesser Quarter Bridge Towers and one Old Town Bridge Tower). Gothic-style Old Town Bridge towers is accessible to the public and the views from the roof offers to Prague Castle panorama are really magnificent.
Over the course of centuries, the bridge suffered from several strong damages in floods, however it has survived until now. For example, the great flood in 1784 severely damaged five pillars. The arches fortunately didn't break down, but the traffic on the bridge had to be greatly restricted for some time. Another flood came to Prague in 1890, during which rafts, logs and other floating material that escaped from places upstream damaged several pillars, and two statues fell down to the river. Flood that hit Prague in 2002 did not make any visible damage to the bridge, however Prague council decided that bridge must undergo a major reconstruction.
The bridge also saw many historical events. During the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648, the Swedes occupied the west bank of Vltava and as they tried to advance into the Old Town, the heaviest fights spread out right on the bridge. During the fighting, they severely damaged one side of the Old Town bridge tower.
Charles bridge also entered on the motion picture screens. For instance, the monument appears in two Hollywood movies, action films Mission: Impossible and xXx.
Charles bridge is probably the only bridge with its own museum. Charles Bridge Museum, opened in June 2007 to celebrate 650th anniversary of the bridge's construction, is located next to the foot of the bridge from the Old Town side, to be precise in the baroque seat of the order the Knights of the Red Cross and Star. The religious order took care of the bridge during the history.
During the day, the bridge is occupied by many art sellers and musician.
Charles Bridge Statues
Charles bridge is decorated by an alley of 30 statues and statuaries depicting saints on bridge piers. Most of them are in baroque-style and were erected around 1700. However the latest one were put on the bridge in 1928.
The statues were created by many important Czech and European sculptors (Matthias Braun, Jan Brokoff and his sons Michael Joseph and Ferdinand Maximilian, and others).
What you now can see on the bridge are not originals, but copies. All of the statues are replaced by by replicas, the originals are stored in the Lapidary of the National Museum and in casemate under second Prague Castle, Vysehrad. Replicas now line the bridge.
Most popular statue is probably the one of St. John of Nepomuk, a Czech martyr saint who was executed during the reign of Wenceslas IV and thrown into the river from the bridge.
It is said that touching the statue will make one wish come true. That is why nowadays parts of the statue are polished and look shiny from countless hands that have touched then with hope along many years.
On the left hand of the bridge from the Old Town bridge tower:
On the right hand of the bridge from the Old Town bridge tower:
Accommodation of Charles Bridge area
See other Prague Districts:
Prague Castle | Wenceslas Square | Old Town Square | Charles Bridge | Charles square | Lesser town | Petrin | Jewish town | Zizkov | Vinohrady
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