Charles Bridge

pictures, photos, facts and information on Charles Bridge (Prague)


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Charles Bridge on the Map

GPS N50.086463°,E14.411445°
Charles Bridge is one of the most famous Prague’s landmarks. It is the oldest bridge over Vltava River (until 1841 was also the only one) and the second oldest bridge in Czech Republic.

The length of the bridge is 516 metres and its width in nearly 10 metres. When there is regular water level in the river, its high is 13 metres. The bridge is made of 16 arches. The pillars that hold the bridge are 8,5 to 10,5 metres wide and in the past they had never been anchored in a firm rock, because it was too deep. Instead they stood on oak grates held with millstones. The pillars on the current side were protected by wooden ice-guards.

There are three towers bordering the bridge. Two of them are on the side called Mala Strana (The Small Side), the third one is on the side of Stare Mesto (The Old Town) and this one is considered to be one of the most beautiful gothic towers on the world. There are 30 statues and sculptural groups, placed on both sides of the bridge. At first, there was no decoration on the bridge. Later a Cross with Jesus Christ was put on it (in 14th century) and from 17th century baroque statues and sculptural groups were placed on both sides. Most of them are from years 1706 – 1714. The oldest preserved statue was St. Jan Nepomucky from 1683. The last sculpture put on the bridge was St. Cyril and Method in 1928. Most of them are made of sandstone, just St. Filip Benicius is made of marble and St. Kriz (St. Cross) and St. Jan Nepomucky is made of bronze. Most of the sculptures were destroyed throughout the centuries and by many floods, so they were reconstructed and in 1965 replaced by their copies. The repaired originals can be seen in the lapidary of the National Museum.

Before Charles Bridge there was the Bridge of Judita on its place, but it was torn down by icebergs. The present name got the Bridge just in 1870, before that it was called Stone or Prague Bridge. The name was given according the King Charles IV, whose statue stands right naxt to the bridge on the Old Town Side.

On 9 July 1357 King Charles IV laid the foundation stone and the bridge was made under his patronage. Its first architect became Petr Parléř. After his death in 1397 the bridge was finished by his followers in 1402. Throughout the centuries the bridge’s enemies became floods more than wars. It was nearly destroyed by floods in 1655, 1784, 1845 and 1890; the last one being also the worst one.

In the past the Bridge was very important as far as the transportation was concerned. Today it is place where tourists cross the Vltava River and where artists of different kinds show their skills.
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