Czech Republic

A walk over the Charles Bridge, Prague

charles bridge prague

Charles Bridge of Prague is without any doubt the most touristy place in Prague, for all the right reasons. The entire city of Prague is filled with beautiful sights of the great baroque architecture. But Charles Bridge takes up significant time slot in every traveller’s schedule.

Needless to be said, I too made through the sea of tourists in the Old Town to take in the sights of the remarkable Bridge. For my visit, I selected the afternoon time. Though the sun wasn’t too harsh it had most probably driven away, most of the tourists. I had heard about the overcrowded situation of the bridge previously. But fortunately, when I went it wasn’t overcrowded and I did get my share.

History of Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge Prague
Charles Bridge, Prague – History of Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge of Prague is the oldest stone bridge in Europe. The construction of the Charles Bridge was done under the rule of King Charles IV, in the year 1357. The King himself laid the first foundation stone of the bridge. Moreover, it is said that thousands of eggs were mixed with the mortar to make the bridge stronger. The Bridge indeed survived numerous wars, fights, floods and natural calamities over the ages.

Charles Bridge was called just a bridge in the ancient times, as it was the only bridge over the Vltava waters at that time. The name Charles was given recently in around 18th century. The bridge was always an important trade route between Eastern and Western Europe. The Kings of Prague used this fact to their advantage and prosperity.

Statues on Charles Bridge, Prague

charles bridge sunrise
Charles Bridge, Prague – Statues on Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge, Prague is the most scenic place with 30 groups of statues placed strategically at various intervals all over the bridge. The statues and the sculptures here were erected in the 16th and 17th century. Some of them suffered in the floods and the wars. They were replaced or remade.

All the statues today at the Charles Bridge, Prague are carefully made replicas of the real ones. None of them is an original. In the 19th century, all the real statues were systematically replaced with their replicas. All the original statues are safely placed in the National Museum.

The Legend of St John of Nepomuk statue on Charles bridge

charles bridge prague rub statue
Charles Bridge, Prague – St John of Nepomuk statue on Charles Bridge

The St John of Nepomuk’s Statue was the first to be erected on the Charles Bridge. If you are headed from the Old Town Square towards the bridge, this is the 8th statue on the right. St John was killed by the suspicious King when he refused to reveal the confessions of the Queen. He was then thrown into the Vlatava waters from over the bridge. Many say that it was more of a political fight between the King and the Church. The St John of Nepomuk’s Statue is the only bronze statue on the Charles Bridge.

However, the above facts are least interesting if you read the following legends. Today, any tourist will touch at 3 places on the Charles Bridge. The two plaques below the statue of St John of Nepomuk and the cross with a five-pointed star.

charles bridge prague rub statue
Charles Bridge, Prague – Charles Bridge Prague Rub Statue

One plaque shows a picture of St John of Nepomuk being thrown into the river. If you touch this, it is said that you will return to Prague one day. Another plaque shows a picture of a knight and a dog. Many tourists pet this dog, hoping for a long-lasting loyal relationship. Many others think this brings good luck. These two places are rubbed by thousands of tourists, that the bronze plaques have become shiny and look really polished.

charles bridge prague rub statue
Charles Bridge, Prague – Charles Bridge Prague Rub Statue

If you walk some steps down on the same side is a small bronze cross. This is placed to mark the place from where St. John of Nepomuk was thrown into the river. It is said that if you touch this cross and make a wish it will come true within a year and a day. Another way to make a wish here is to place each of your fingers on the five stars on the plaque below the cross.

I was completely unaware of this cross but I did make sure to touch the plaques below St. John of Nepomuk Statue.

The Charles Market

charles bridge prague
Charles Bridge, Prague – The Charles Market

Many street hawkers and buskers have their shops all across the Charles Bridge. There are artists who can paint your picture for around 500 crowns. There are all types of souvenir sellers too. But the real market is adjacent to the Charles Bridge. You reach it when you walk across the bridge over towards the Old Town Square. This area is lined with various types of shops and cafes. A pleasant site if you just want to window shop. Also along the way, you will see the Astronomical Clock. Read more about this oldest ticking clock in my next post.

How to reach the Charles Bridge

The Charles Bridge is very easy to find if you approach it from Charles Castle. The nearest tram station is “Malostranské náměstí.” I still don’t know how to spell that. On the other side, the bridge leads to “Karlova street” – ending at the Old Town Square.

The Charles Bridge has no opening or closing hours, which means its open 24/7 for the public. Moreover, entry is free. The Charles Bridge has not collected toll for the last 200 years!

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