What you may not know about the Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge is, without any doubt, on the top of every Prague visitor’s must-see list. And I bet you have already seen it. But I believe there are things about the Charles Bridge you don’t know yet – things that will make you love this place even more.

Charles Bridge with Prague Castle You have probably read somewhere that the construction of the most famous bridge of all across the Vltava River, the Charles Bridge, was commissioned by the Czech king and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV in 1357. What you may not know is that this was not the first bridge that connected the Prague banks of the Vltava. Another bridge used to stand in the same place – the Judith Bridge, which was the first stone bridge over the river. It was built in 1172, but collapsed after being badly damaged by a flood in 1342.

In charge of the construction was architect Petr Parler whose other works include the St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle.

Nice walks on Charles Bridge Another interesting thing about the Charles Bridge is how it was built. The bridge was built from Bohemian sandstone. It is said that egg yolks were mixed into the mortar to strengthen the construction of the bridge – just like adding egg yolks when baking to make the dough hold together better. There is no evidence if this is true or just a legend, however, how else can you explain that the Charles Bridge has survived many floods, most recently in August 2002 when the whole country experienced the worst flood in the past 500 years? The egg yolks might have helped, who knows?

And did you know that Charles Bridge has been the “Charles Bridge” since 1870? For centuries it was actually called the Stone Bridge or the Prague Bridge! Surprised?

Pillars of Charles Bridge The bridge is 515 meters long and 10 meters wide, decorated by a continuous alley of 30 baroque statues and statuary, erected around 1700. However, beginning in 1965, all of the statues have been systematically replaced by replicas and the originals have been exhibited in the Lapidarium of the National Museum. What you see now on the Charles Bridge are thus only copies. But that doesn’t mean they are less impressive!

Can you imagine both tram and car traffic on the Charles Bridge? Well, as bizarre as it sounds, they were allowed there in the past. It was not until 1965 that all traffic has been excluded from the Charles Bridge since then, making it accessible by pedestrians only. That was definitely a good choice!

From a bird's view The best time to visit Charles Bridge is early at the morning or at night when it is not crowded. There are towers standing on both ends of the bridge and both can be climbed for a magnificent view of Prague and the bridge from above. I am recommending it to all my friends!

You can get to the Charles Bridge when taking the tram number 12, 20, 22 or 23, getting off at station Malostranse Namesti. Or you can go there from the other side of the river when taking the green subway (A), station Staromestska. Or just follow the crowds.

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