Charles Bridge (Karluv Most) is found in many books and is probably the most famous monument in Prague. It was built under the kingship of Charles IV who participated in the global reach of the golden city. Did you know that its construction began in the fourteenth century and was the only bridge over the Vltava until 1741?
History Judith Bridge Charles Bridge
Before Charles Bridge there was the Judith Bridge, which was built in 1158 and completed in 1172. According to the historical context Judith Bridge looked like an other bridge; Regensburg Bridge in Bavaria, which was built between 1135 and 1146 and still exists.
But the Judith Bridge has been destroyed by flooding in 1342. There is still some reminiscence of the bridge, the pillars can still be seen in the river.
Charles IV built the new bridge in 1357 (the exact date is still under debate.) But Charles IV had asked to astrologers to choose a date with hope that the bridge could stand the test of time.
The Charles Bridge has a total length of 516 meters for a total width of 10 meters. Its function was to connect Prague Castle in the Mala Strana side to the Old Town (Stare Mesto). The end of the construction of the bridge is uncertain, some scholars say the completion date was 1380 and others say it was completed in 1402. It is also uncertain of the person who built the bridge, but it would appear to be Peter Parler, who had completed it. We’re not going to offend anyone and say that the bridge was built in the XIV century.
Towers on each side of the bridge have also contributed to the greatness of this bridge. There is Judith Tower, the smallest Tour on the Mala Strana side of that date in 1188 in Romanesque style. This tower is the witness of the past of the Judith Bridge. This tower served as a prison during the fifteenth century and tollbooth in the XVIcentury until 1784.
There is also always on the side of Mala Strana, the great tower which dates it about 1464 in Gothic style.
Across the bridge tower of the Old Town (Staromestska Motecka Vez) which is a masterpiece of the Gothic period is a wonderful gate that was built in the XIV century.
The tower was completed by Peter Parler (Petr Parler), the man who also completed the bridge. This tower has suffered some damage in 1648 by the bullets of the Swedish army. On this tour you can see left Charles IV and Venceslas on the right. In the middle is the St. Vitus Bridge protector.
You can enter inside the old Town Tower which is open daily from 10am to 8pm and climb the 138 steps of stairs snails. Prices are 70 crowns per adult and for children up to 18 years and the students is 50 crowns. So you can enjoy a magnificent view of the city and the Mala Strana.
At the beginning of the construction, there was a wooden cross on the bridge. Baroque statues appeared only in the XVIIth and XVIIIth century until 1928. There are a little more than 30 statues on the bridge.
One of the most famous statues which attracts tourists is Saint John of Nepomuk (St Jan Nepomucky) (1683). You are lucky if you touch it, legend has it that if you touch the golden dog (a sign of loyalty) you will return to Prague. The queen on the other side to the right is a sign of happiness.
John of Nepomuk was thrown over the bridge in 1393 by order of King Vencesclas IV, because he refused to tell to the King the confessions of the queen. Once dead, a halo appeared above water. You can still see a golden cross near his statue that is where he would have been thrown over the bridge, according to the legend.
John of Nepomuk is the Saint of boatmen, bridges and all the men who had ties with the water.
Most of the statues were made by two artists Ferdinand Maximilian Brokoff and Matthias Bernhard Braun.
One of the most majestic statues of Baroque style is Sainte Lugarde (1710). This statue was made by Braun when he was 26 years old, but what you see on the bridge is a copy.
To see the original, you must go to National Museum. Sainte Lutgarde is a Cistercian nun of the thirteenth century who had a vision of Christ down from the cross to soothe his wounds.
All year long on the bridge, there are tourists but you have all the folklore with postcards sellers, musicians, etc.
Better than reading an article if you could go to the bridge at sunrise with snow, the atmosphere and the pictures will be more magical. My impression is that, you do not have enough eyes and words to see and describe what you see.
2 thoughts on “Charles Bridge”
That’s a great history. useful text. Thanks
Hi, I like these kinds of posts. please do them more. Thanks