Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, not to say the pearl of East, but them people would say, what about Budapest, Krakow, and so many others? I agree, but today i want to talk about this special and magical bridge that remains in the heart of Prague, the Charles Bridge.
Karlův Most – The Medieval Gothic Bridge in Prague
Surrounded by legends and with its beautiful architecture, Charles Bridge began to be constructed by King Charles IV in 1357 and only finished in 1402. Lined up with 16 arches, along with another 30 religious Baroque statues, the bridge has 520 m (1,700 ft) and maintain the position to be one of the most beautiful bridges in Europe.
Not to mention one of the most sites visited as well.
Connecting the Old Town with Lesser Town, at first it was called as the Stone Bridge (Kamenný most) and the architect of the construction was Petr Parléř, also responsible for other works as Prague’s Castle (Pražský hrad) and Saint Vitus Cathedral (Katedrala Sv. Vita), the largest and the most important temple in Prague.
Before Charles Bridge
The first stone bridge over the river was built in 1172. During the reign of Charles IV many monuments were constructed in Prague, but long before Charles Bridge, there was another bridge in its place connecting the banks of Prague up the Vltava River, The Judith Bridge. Sadly, it collapsed in a flood in 1342.
The Statues at Karlův Most
As mentioned before, Charles Bridge has 30 Baroque Statues and Statuaries. They began to be placed beginning of the 17th century until the 18th century. Some of them are copies, but you can check the original ones in the Lapidarium (Lapidárium), the museum of Czech stone sculptures from the 11th century until 19th century. These statues not only connects Baroque style with Gothic style, but also, so people say, by touching one of these, it can bring you good luck and ensure your return to Prague.
Find the statue of St. John of Nepomuk, a Czech martyr saint (the 8th statue on the right hand, heading from Old Town Square towards the Prague Castle). St. John was executed during the reign of Wenceslas IV by being thrown into the Vltava from the bridge. And, you might find it just by seeing the statue that has parts that looks like gold, so many people have touched it over the centuries. Lines to touch it are pretty common and even I was there waiting for my turn, lucky enough, I was able to take a picture with no one on it
The crowd at Charles Bridge
If you want to be all by yourself at Charles Bridge, be sure to be there on early dawn or late at night, because during the day it’s almost impossible.
As one of the most visited sight seeing places in Prague, Charles Bridge, aside tourists, it’s full of artists, musicians, painters, souvenir vendors and a few beggars. Even in the winter is fully crowded. But don’t be upset. Try to go there on the sunset, and as a result, you will have this amazing view of Prague’s Castle from the Bridge. I can assure you it’s breathtaking. The view is worth at any time of day or night, winter, summer.
The Point Towers at Karlův Most
At each point of the bridge, you will find a tower that can be climbed to have the view of Charles Bridge, Vltava River and Prague. At the end of Old Town you will have the Staroměstská věž and on the end of Malá Strana, the Malostranská věž. Take a peak
It’s called as ‘A Ghost Place’
Charles Bridge is much more than just a common bridge. For more than four hundred years this was the only way across the Vltava, and now there are other ways that were never considered before. A history place, an artist place, a judgment place, and also, a ghost place.
Soon as we cross the famous Gothic Old Town and walk into Charles Bridge, we realized the energy of that place (no cars allowed since 1965). But what is this thing that makes Charles Bridge ghostly? Besides the phenomenon of the statue of St. John of Nepomuk, Charles Bridge is connected by a number of legends actually.
The one I find more interesting, and also more sad one is…, after the death of St. John of Nepomuk some of the arches of the bridge collapsed many times and they were really hard to repair. What was built during the day, fell during the night. And this kept going until…a young and ambitious architect showed up. This architect wanted to impress at any cost the King and repair the bridge. So, he made a pact with the devil himself.
The pact consisted in: the devil would help him by fixing the bridge, with no more collapses, but wanted in exchange the soul of the first human being to cross the bridge. The architect, so full of himself, with his ego bigger than anything, didn’t even think about the consequences of that pact. He thought he was smarter than the devil and asked the guards to release a cock over the bridge before anyone would be allowed to cross.
But the devil had already visited his house, disguised as one of his assistants and told his wife that her husband needed her on the bridge for some reason. She was the first to cross the bridge and by the time the architect knew, he realized that the devil had won, and him, lost his wife…
And here it goes another tale…On the Mala Strana side we have the sculpture of the Czech ruler Bruncvík. It’s said he had an enchanted sword that could decapitate his enemies. The legend also says that eventually this sword ended up hidden within Charles Bridge. And by the time the country will face its greatest danger, the legendary Duke Wenceslas will come out of Mount Blaník on his white horse along with his warriors and suddenly, Charles Bridge will split and reveal Bruncvík’s enchanted sword. Armed with this weapon, Wenceslas will have a crushing defeat upon his enemies.
Surrounded by tourists and ghosts, tales and facts, the thing is, Karlův Most is one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture inside Eastern Europe, and and a must go in any time of the year.
Karlův most, 110 00
Praha, Czech Republic