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 full of beautiful sights of the great baroque architecture. But this place takes up significant time slot in every traveller’s schedule.
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. No not the sunrise. Check here what I did for my Sunrise in Prague.
So, the sun drove away most of the tourists in the afternoon. Although it wasn’t so harsh for me. 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.
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 of Prague is the oldest stone bridge in Europe. In the year 1357, King Charles IV undertook the construction of the Bridge. 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.
In ancient times, people used to call it as just a bridge. In around 18th century they named it the Charles Bridge. 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
Charles Bridge is the most scenic place with 30 groups of statues placed strategically at various intervals all over the bridge. In the 16th and 17th century they erected the statues and the sculptures here. Some of them suffered in the floods and the wars. They replaced or remade them.
Today all the statutes here are careful replicas of the real ones. None of them is an original. In the 19th century, they systematically replaced all the real statutes with their replicas. All the original statues stand safely in the National Museum.
The Legend of St John of Nepomuk statue
The St John of Nepomuk’s statue was the first sculpture on the Bridge. If you are headed from the Old Town Square towards the bridge, this is the 8th statue on the right. The suspicious King killed St John when he refused to reveal the confessions of the Queen. Then they threw him 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 here.
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.
One plaque shows a picture of St John of Nepomuk falling into the river. Touch this and 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. Thousands of tourists have rubbed these two places so much, that the bronze plaques have become shiny and look really polished.
Make a wish Statue on Charles Bridge
If you walk some steps down on the same side is a small bronze cross. This is placed to mark the location from where St. John of Nepomuk was thrown into the river. People say 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
Many street hawkers and buskers have their shops all across the 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 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.
They have no opening or closing hours for the bridge, which means its open 24/7 for the public. Moreover, entry is free. They haven’t collected toll for the last 200 years!
I have linked in some River Cruises below, which is by the way best way to see Prague. Honestly, the thrill of passing under the Charles Bridge and cruising the Vlatava river is marvellous. Plus the guide onboard tells us all about the famous landmarks we pass on our way.
Some other stories in Prague specially handpicked for you,
- Where to watch the best Sunrise in Prague, Czech Republic?
- Cesky Krumlov – Time Travel in a Bohemian Fairy Tale