Prague Charles Bridge

Charming Prague Hotels | 22. 6. 2015

The Prague Charles Bridge is a stone Gothic bridge connecting the Prague Old Town (Stare Město) with Prague Lesser Town (Mala Strana) and is 515 meters long and 9,5 m wide. It is aprox. 13 m high above the Vltava river usual level.



It was built in time of the Czech king and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV in 1357 in place of another former Prague stone bridge the Judith Bridge (built in 1172), which was the first stone bridge over the Vltava river in Prague (find more about Prague here) and collapsed in a flood in 1342.
Royal numerologists and astrologers set a precise moment for the Charles IV to lay the foundation stone on 9.7. 1357, at 5:31 am. This date and minute can be viewed as 135797531. This ascending and descending number is carved out on the Prague Old Town bridge tower.
Czech sandstone was used to build The Prague Charles Bridge and it is said that egg yolks were used to strengthen the construction of the Prague Charles bridge (modern laboratory tests have really proved organic ingredients to the mortar). Not a bad idea – the Prague Charles Bridge has survived many floods including latest in August 2002, when the country experienced the worst flood in the past 500 years.
In 1432 a flood damaged three pillars and in 1496 the third arch from the Prague Old Town side broke down after one of the pillars lowered, being undermined by the water stream (repairs finished in 1503).
There is an entrance tower standing on both banks of the Prague Charles Bridge - the Old Town Tower (Staromestska vez) on the Prague Old Town river bank and the Malostranska vez/tower on the Prague Lesser Town (Mala Strana) bank (acctualy split into 2 towers – one is smaller). Both can be climbed for an unique view of Prague and the Prague Charles Bridge from above and have gate in the middle. 
In 1648 (during the end of the Thirty Years' War), the Swedes occupied the west bank of Vltava and tried to advance into the Prague Old Town. The heaviest fights spread out right on the bridge. They severly demadged the Prague Old Town bridge tower side facing the river. Almost all gothic decorations had to be removed from the Prague Charles Bridge afterward. In the late 17th and early 18th century the Prague Charles bridge gained it´s typical appearance, when an alley of baroque statues was installed. Both Prague Charles Bridge towers underwent large reconstruction in period 1874-1883. Three arches were torn down from and two pillars collapsed from being undermined by the water in flood, which came to Prague in 1890. The Prague Charles Bridge experienced heavy traffic in 20th century. Even electric tram passed through from 1905 until 1908 and buses afterward. A barricade was built in the Old Town bridge tower gateway in last days of World War II.
General repair of the Prague Charles bridge took place in period 1965-1978 and another at the beginning of new milenium.

The Prague Charles bridge is now a pedestrian zone and is filled with tourists, musicians, Czech artists and souvenir vendors whose standing at both sides of the bridge whole year round.



Towers of The Prague Charles Bridge
 
The Prague Old Town Tower
It is probably the most beautifull mideval tower in Europe. It was build in last quarter of 14th century and it was originaly used as prison. There is celar underground, which was used the same way. You can admire unique statues of tower builders, saints and emperors as well as blozons of Czech territories displayed on The Prague Old Town Tower. Way through was secured by portcullis.

 
The Prague Lesser Town Towers
Lower tower was build probably in year 1411 in place of former tower, which was part of older Judith Bridge. The higher tower was build after 1464. There is a gate between both towers with blozons.



Statues of The Prague Charles Bridge

In total 30 statues was placed in 17th century on either side of the Prague Charles Bridge (many of them copies these days – originals can be seen in one of Prague museums - the Lapidarium).
The most popular statue is statue of St. John of Nepomuk. Czech martyr saint, thrown into the Vltava from the bridge in late 14th century. It has been polished by people having touched it over the centuries, which is supposed to bring good luck and ensure return to Prague. If you find the spot on the right side of the Prague Charles Bridge (facing the Prague Castle), where a golden double cross with five five-pointed star plaque is embedded, than remember that it´s the exact spot where the murder took place. Statue of a dog and in the scene with the confessional - touch it and you will have a dog in your life or never drown while sailing. We recommend to visit the bridge at sunset, when one can enjoy a breathtaking view of the fully lit Prague Castle on the evening sky. Or go there in the early morning to avoid the crowds…

 

 


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