Charles bridge

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Charles bridge is the oldest bridge across the river Vltava in Prague. On the bridge there are a lot of statutes expressing biblical scenes.

Charles bridge with Prague Castle is one of the most visited tourist destination in Prague. Mostly is full of turists. If you want to view it empty is possible only in early (very early morning). it is worth it.

Charles Bridge history

National Cultural Monument

The Charles Bridge ranks among the greatest tourist attractions of Prague- It is the oldest extant bridge in Prague. It had two predecessors: a wooden bridge situated a little lower down the Vltava, mention of which _was made in the toth century, and later, from about 1 170, the hrst stone bridge (the second in Central Europe after the Regensburg Bridge) which was named after Judith, the consort of King Vladislav I during whose reign it was built. The Judith Bridge, lower and narrower than the Charles Bridge and running almost parallel to it, stood until 1342 when it was destroyed by floods.

The building of the Charles Bridge was commissioned in 1357 by Charles IV who entrusted the supervision of the work to the twenty- seven-years-old architect Peter Parler whose architectural gems have won so much renown for Prague. The construction of the bridge was not completed until the beginning of the 15th century.

The bridge is 516 metres long and nearly IO metres wide. It rests on 16 piers and is built of sandstone blocks. In the course of its con- struction Peter Parler took into account not only its function as the most important communication linking the Old Town with the Castle, but also its strategic value.

The bridge very soon became one of the centres of town life. It was the scene of trade activity, courts of judgement and tournaments. Its military significance was also considerable. The Winter King fled across it after the defeat on the White Mountain and it was from here that the Swedes waged their attack on Prague in I648, destroying a part of the decoration of the bridge and the Old Town bridge tower in the ensuing battles.

Above all, however, the bridge was a promenade, just as it still is today. The so-called Royal Route also ran across it. From the bridge there is a beautiful view of the Vltava, the panorama of Prague and the Castle. In spite of all this, however, the Charles Bridge is best-known for its characteristic Baroque sculptural decoration.

The idea of this open-air gallery of sculptures is of Italian origin, after the model of the Angel Bridge in Rome. The combination of severe Gothic architecture with Baroque groups of sculptures creates a unique and characteristic whole. The decoration of the bridge originated not at once, but gradually. In the first half of the 17th century the Crucifix on the bridge was renewed, in I683 the first sculpture — of John of Nepomuk - was set up and in 1695-1696 the Pieta (later transferred to the court of the Pod Petrinem Hospital) was placed on the bridge. About 1700 a statue of St. Wenceslas was added which did not, however, remain on the bridge either.

In 1706-1714 the bridge was adorned with 26 sculptures and groups of statues, but it was not until the second half of the 19th century that other sculptural works appeared on the bridge — a sculpture of St. Christopher in I857 and a new statue of St. Wenceslas in 1859. Last to be placed on the bridge were the statues of SS. Cyril and Method by K. Dvorak from 1938. Today there stands on the Charles Bridge an avenue of thirty sculptures and groups of statues by the beat-known artists (Matthias Bernard Braun, Jan Brokofi’ and his sons, Michal, J an Josef and Ferdinand Maxmilian) and other, less-known sculptors. At present the original sculptures are gradually being transferred to the Municipal Gallery and replaced with copies. J

Approximately in the middle of the bridge is a relief on the balustrade which shows the drowning of John of Nepomuk, who was canonized in I729. John of Nepomuk, General Vicar, was drowned below the Charles Bridge in I 393 at the order of Vaclav IV, because he had confirmed, against the King’s will, the installation of the new Abbot of Kladruby Abbey and not because, as the Church has it, he had refused to betray to the irascible King the secrets confided to him as the Queen’s Confessor. (Cf the bronze relief on the pedestal of the statue of the saint.) At the end of the bridge, in front of the Mala Strana bridge towers, there stands on the left-hand side a Renaissance house from 1591 which was once a tollhouse. On the first floor of the house is a rare Romanesque relief from the mid-13th century which originally was perhaps a part of the decoration of the facade of the smaller of the two bridge towers. The Charles Bridge has been reconstructed several times since the time of its origin. Its most extensive repair, involving the renovation of its sculptural decoration, the renewal of its paving and its technical re- construction, was realized a few years ago.

Tips for photographers

Best time for photographing is around the 3:00 - 4:00 pm.

Best places for photo

Best place of photo is at Krizovnicke namesti square, near the restaurant beside the bridge.

Charles bridge souvenirs

Near the bridge is a lot of street vendors where you may buy many interesting thinks like porcelan, branded T shirts etc.

Page updated 6.4.2024 23:50

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