The Charles Bridge in Prague traverses the Vltava River and joins Prague’s Old Town with Lesser Prague. The bridge is built of stone and is of Gothic design. At first the bridge was just called the Stone Bridge.
The Charles Bridge was the only way to go across the Vltava or Moldau River until the 1840s. At this time, the bridge had important political and economic effects for Prague as the route over the bridge placed Prague on a significant trade route in Western Europe.
King Charles IV, who was the Czech king, ordered the building of the bridge in 1300s. Petr Parler, who also designed the St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle, was the architect of the bridge. One story regarding the construction states that egg yolk was combined with the mortar to reinforce the construction.
King Charles IV ordered the construction of many buildings and monuments. The Charles Bridge is the first bridge uniting the two sides of the Vlltava River in Prague. The Charles Bridge replaced a previous bridge called the Judith Bridge. This was the first stone bridge over the river, constructed in the late 1100s. That bridge was damaged in a flood and then removed in the 1300s. The present bridge has survived floods including the recent floods.
The Charles Bridge is over 500 meters in length and 10 meters wide. It is supported by arches that are protected by ice guards. The bridge has three towers. Two of then are on the end of the bridge in Lesser Prague and the other tower is on the Old Town location. The Malostranska vez stands on the Mala Strana end of the bridge and the Staromestska vez is on the Old Town side of the bridge. Visitors can climb both towers for scenic views of Prague. The Charles Bridge is regarded as an outstanding example of Gothic architecture.
Starting in the 17th century, Baroque statues, thirty in all, were positioned on the bridge. Many of those remaining on the bridge are copies. The original statues are on display in the Lapidarium or Prague Museums. One of the more celebrated statues is of St. John of Nepomuk, a martyr who was killed when Wenceslas IV ruled. One story about the statue is that the commemorative inscription on the statue is shiny because of all of the people who have touched it. In addition, those who touch the statue are supposed to receive good luck.
Visitors to the Charles Bridge can view Prague’s along with the Prague Castle above the river. During the day, the bridge is busy with artists and musicians entertaining the crowds. It is ideal place for a walk any time of day or evening.