Charles Bridge, Prague
The Charles Bridge, Prague, is a historic bridge that crosses the Vltava river in the Czech Republic. Its construction started in 1357 under King Charles IV, and was completed at the beginning of the 15th century. The bridge was built to replace the old Judith Bridge because it was badly damaged by a flood in 1342. This new bridge, originally called “Stone Bridge” or “Prague Bridge”, has been the “Charles Bridge” since 1870. The Charles Bridge was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city’s Old Town. It was the only means of crossing the river Vltava until 1841. This “solid-land” connection made Prague important as a trade route between Eastern and Western Europe.
The bridge is now a pedestrian zone, and is almost constantly filled with people. In the past, both tram and car traffic were allowed on the bridge. We came to the Charles Bridge in the afternoon, and it was packed! If you want to have it all to yourself, go there at night or very early in the morning.
Source of images Below and Above
Odd, but interesting, fact: It is said that egg yolks were mixed into the mortar to strengthen the construction of the bridge.
Unlike its predecessor, Charles Bridge has survived many floods, most recently in August 2002 when the country experienced the worst flood in the past 500 years. So the egg yolks must not have been such a bad idea.
Below, the view from the middle of the bridge.
Charles Bridge Towers
The bridge is protected by three bridge towers, two of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the third one on the Old Town side (pictures above). The Old Town Bridge Tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, originally erected around 1700 but now all replaced by replicas.
Baroque statues began to be placed along either side of Charles Bridge in the 17th century. Now many of them are copies and the originals can be seen in the Lapidarium. The most popular statue is probably the one of St. John of Nepomuk (pictured above), a Czech martyr saint who was executed during the reign of Wenceslas IV by being thrown into the Vltava from the bridge. The plaque on the statue has been polished to a shine by countless people having touched it over the centuries. Touching the statue is supposed to bring good luck and ensure your return to Prague.
Old School Sightseeing Tours
When we reached the Lesser Quarter side of the Charles Bridge, we came across many beautiful old cars offer sightseeing tours of Old Prague. As you can see above, the cars were pretty darn appealing – but we decided not to do one of these tours. Mostly because they were €50 for 35 minutes. This more of a “when we are older” thing… haha, where would we put the stroller (and the two year old, haha).
Charles Bridge is on the top of every Prague visitor’s must-see list. It is also popular with Czech artists, musicians and souvenir vendors whose stands line both sides of the bridge year-round. Come to the bridge is at sunset to enjoy a breathtaking view of the fully lit Prague Castle against the evening sky.
Closest public transport:
Malostranské náměstí tram stop (tram 12, 20, 22)
Karlovy lázně tram stop (tram 17, 18)
Staroměstská metro station