I believe this is one of the "must see" tourist attractions in Prague, the Charles Bridge. Not quite like a circus but it is busy, crowded and touristy. Lots of souvenirs for sale and street performers trying their best to sell CD's and make their tips. The bridge tower is impressive. The views from the bridge are great!
It crosses the Vltava River and was built 1158-1172. Damaged by a flood in 1342 and again partial damage in 1432 and 1496. The new bridge was then called Charles Bridge since 1870.
Prague's 13th century Charles Bridge is undoubtedly a top priority on your list of sights to visit.
The bridge is 516 meters long and nearly 10 m wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards.
It is protected by three bridge towers, two of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the third one on the Old Town side.
The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries (most of them baroque-style) erected around 1700 plus Statue of Bruncvik near the bridge:
- Statue of Christ the Saviour with St. Cosmas and St. Damian
- Statue of St. Wenceslas
- Statue of John of Nepomuk
- Statue of St. Vitus
- Statue of St. Nicholas of Tolentino
- Statue of St. Judas Thaddeus
- Statue of St. Ludmila with little Wenceslas
- Statue of St. John the Baptist
- Statue of Pieta (Lamenting of Christ)
- Statue of St. Anne
- Statue of St. Barbara, St. Margaret and St. Elizabeth
- Statue of St. Cyril and St. Methodius
- Statue of St. Francis Borgia
- Statue of St. Francis Seraph
- Statue of St. Francis Xavier
- Statue of St. Ivo
- Statue of St. John of Matha, St. Felix of Valois and St. Ivan
- Statue of St. Luthgard
- Statue of St. Norbert, St. Wenceslas and St. Sigismund
- Statue of St. Vincent of Ferrara and St. Procopius
- Statue of The Madonna and St. Bernard
- Statue of The Madonna, St. Dominic and St. Thomas Aquinas
- Statue of The St. Cross with Calvary
- Statue of St. Adalbert
- Statue of St. Anthony of Padua with baby Jesus
- Statue of St. Augustine
- Statue of St. Cajetan
- Statue of St. Christopher
- Statue of St. Philip Benitius
- Statue of St. Joseph
Today most of the statues are copies as various floods and catastrophes over the centuries have damaged the originals.
King Charles IV's favourite architect and builder, Peter Parler, originally built the present day bridge. The initial idea was to build a functional construction for knight tournaments, and for many years the only decoration on the bridge was a simple crucifix. Later the Catholic desire for ornamentation resulted in 30 statues being built (1600-1800 AD).
There are towers at both ends of the bridge - the Old Town Bridge Tower on the Old Town side and the Lesser Town Bridge Towers on the Mala Strana side.
Karluv most (Charles Bridge) is probably the only location in Prague through which every visitor must pass. It is said that the bridges connecting the two banks, but also the people who live on these shores. Karluv most, however, is far more than that, this bridge is the heart and soul of the city of Prague. Suppose this bridge is subtracted from Prague, the city will sink into mediocrity and obscurity. Charles Bridge is the lifeblood and the symbol of Prague.
The construction of the bridge started in 1357, under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century. The bridge was originally called Kamenny most (the Stone Bridge) and its actual name dates from 1870.
Charles Bridge is richly decorated with the sculptures and each one in its own way communicate with passerby. There are 30 statues mounted to the balustrade of the bridge forming two rows, one on each side.
The statue of St. John of Nepomuk is the oldest on the bridge. In 1393 the saint was thrown from the bridge into the river where he drowned. It is believed that touching his statue would bring good fortune and to ensure that the visitor will return to the city of Prague.
The Crucifix and Calvary sculpture is historically the most interesting. The original wooden crucifix was installed at the bridge in 1361 but than destroyed by the Hussites in 1419.
The vast majority of other sculptures on the bridge was set in the 18th and 19th century.
Charles Bridge - Everybody knows about it and I think everybody would walk over it on their visit to Prague, after all, it is the MOST VISITED ATTRACTION IN PRAGUE!
The Bridge is known for the many statues of saints that are on either side for the whole length of the Bridge. On a not so happy note, it is known for PICKPOCKETS and for being CROWDED and for souvenir sellers and Artists!
The Bridge dates back to 1347, back then it was called the Stone Bridge, or Prague Bridge, before being named Charles Bridge in 1870, after its founder King Charles IV.
What I enjoyed the most, were the 30 stone statues of saints and important people, added between 1683 and 1928. These are no longer the originals, they are housed in the Lapidarium museum in Holešovice.
Another legend says to find the spot where St. John was thrown from the bridge, it's marked by a small brass cross, and make a wish.
Originally, all the Charles Bridge had was a wooden cross that was placed at its center. In the 17th century the cross was replaced by a bronze crucifix, then first statue - St. John of Nepomuk was added in 1683.
The views from the bridge are great, and if you want to see more, then go on a boat cruise that takes you under Charles Bridge.
It is pedestrian only, so no need to worry about being run over!
April was a good time to visit, not a lot of people around then and good weather.
From what I could see in Prague in the way of caricature artists, Charles Bridge was the best place to find them. Here, there a so many with their work on show, that you can have a browse and decide who you would like to do yourself!
I guess they make a living, otherwise they wouldn't be there! I only saw one person having the Artist draw them!
I did see the prices, but now can't remember - sorry!
STATUE of St. John of Matha, St. Felix of Valois and St. Ivan
For me, this was one of the most interesting statues on Charles Bridge.
Created in 1714, from a donation by Count Thun, this is the largest and most expensive statue on Charles Bridge.
The statue honours the two founders of the Trinitarian Order, who bought Slaves captured by Muslims, then set them free.
The statue is different, as its a rock with a cave, and there are two parts - inside and outside.
I took a look inside and saw three prisoners in despair, they were guarded by a Dog on the outside. On the rock, there is St. John of Matha with broken chains and money to buy slaves with. St. Felix of Valois, who takes the handcuffs off the prisoners, and on one side, is the Hermit, Ivan. Below there is a stag to remind us that all three saints used to be hermits.
THE STATUE OF ST. IVO is next to the Old Bridge Tower
This statue is from 1711, and was donated by the Law Faculty of the Prague University as St. Ivo is Patron of Lawyers. The statue shows an allegorical depiction of Justice. I wonder if the students who came here and prayed before the statue, if they did well in their exams?
My next photo is of the MADONNA & SAINT BERNARD.
This sandstone statuary was created in 1709, and donated by Benedict Littwerig, an Abbot of the Cistercian Monastery in Osek. It is the first statue beside the old town Tower.
This statue has a lot of detail, which includes the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus in her arms, a kneeling St. Bernard, the founder of the Cistercian Order and many Angels. The Angels are holding the symbols of Jesus Christ’s suffering - a cross, spikes, hammer and pliers, a rooster (that crowed three times when Apostle Peter denied Christ), a miraculous imprint of Christ’s face in Veronica’s scarf and dice with which soldiers played for Christ’s clothes.
As with the other statues, there are Latin inscriptions.
THE STATUE OF ST. JOHN OF NEPOMUK
Is probably the most famous on the bridge, and the one that receives the most attention.
The statue was dedicated the same year as the assumed 300th anniversary of the death of St. John of Nepomuk - He was tortured to death in 1393.
The five stars around his head,supposedly appeared above the water when the saint was thrown in into the water. He is the only saint from the Christian pantheon who can be portrayed with stars around his head.
I thought where the statue was placed would be where he was thrown into the water, this isn't the case, it is between the statue of St. John the Baptist and statuary of St. Norbert, St. Wenceslas and St. Sigismund where the archiepiscopal cross is mounted on the bridge balustrade.
These days, everybody wants to rub the statue for good luck and to bring them back to Prague. Because of this, you usually have somebody in your photo!
Statue of St. Cajetan is from 1709, and was donated by the Prague Convent of the Theatines (Cajetanians). St. Cajetan is standing in front of a tall triangular obelisk covered with clouds and the heads of angels that symbolizes the Holy Trinity, above is a heart, which once had wings, they are no longer! If you can read latin, then you can read the inscription on the book " But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33." Who was St. Cajetan? "The Theatine, the founder of the Order, who lived the life of an apostle."
My next photo is of the "Statuary of the St. Cross with Calvary"
This monument is a little different as it was built over several centuries and has seen some interesting times!
The Cross was the first part of the statue, standing there all alone until destroyed by the Hussites. A second Cross was erected. This was to be taken down, as Elizabeth Stuart was visiting. She was said not to like veneration statues nor the sight of the naked Jesus Christ! She left before they had a chance to take the statue down!
Another incident with this statue, was when a Prague Jew sneered at the Cross. His punishment was to raise enough money to purchase the gold-plated Hebrew letters to be placed around the head of the statue, spelling out "Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord of Hosts." Not a happy time for Prague Jews, as they not only had to pay for the letters referring to God, but also look at them - quite humiliating!
So now, all is at peace, and we can view the Statue with Jesus, the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist and see frogs, lizards and other creatures made in stone as decoration on the sculpture.
The place in front of the cross is considered sacred and was where important events were declared and grand declarations read.
As you can see in the photo, people have been rubbing the statue.
Altogether, there are 30 statues on Charles Bridge - 15 on each side. I didn't take photo's of all of them, just the ones I rather liked.
The majority of the Statues are Baroque, most created in the 17th & 18th centuries. The statues today, are replica's of the originals. One statue probably a lot of people miss, is hidden at the top of the stairwell in the Old Town bridge tower. It depicts a jailer and is believed to be from the turn of the 15th century.
A donation from an Abbot of Strahov Monastery in 1853, enabled the statues of St. Norbert, St. Wenceslas and St. Sigismund to be made. St. Norbert is in the middle, St. Sigismund is on his right and St. Wenceslas, holding a flag, is on his left.
Located next door to each other is the Church of St. Francis of Assissi, the Café-Restaurant / Creperie Gallery and the Charles Bridge Museum, all under the same address.
I am not sure if the "hen" will be sitting out the front of the Café-Restaurant / Creperie Gallery
or not, but if it is there, you won't miss it! It is a real eye-catcher.!
The Creperie had good reviews on its crepes and the prices, although it was mentioned service was slow! It is housed in a historical building with the statue of King Charles IV right in front.
Address: Køížovnické námìstí 3, Prague 1
Hours: 10.00 - 24.00
Adjoining the Creperie, is the Charles Bridge Museum which covers the history of Prague’s most famous landmark. Expect to see displays on ancient bridge-building techniques, information on the bridge's life, as well as about the lives of the people around it. You can even see some of the original stonework of Judith Bridge, dating from 1172. Old photographs of flood damage to Charles Bridge in 1890, when three arches collapsed and were swept away are displayed. The Museum is relatively new, as it was only opened in 2007.
OPEN...Monday to Sunday
Summer (May–September) 10-8pm
Winter (October-April) 10-6pm
ADMISSION ..Adults 150czk
Why has "Charles Bridge" stood for so long ... ?
One great yarn through the ages has it that when stones for the bridge were being laid, the master builders mixed eggs into the mortar to strengthen the bond. At the time of the bridge's construction, one village allegedly tried to impress Emperor Charles IV by sending him carts filled with hard-boiled eggs. The gift may have been a welcome snack for the builders, but likely did little to strengthen the mortar.
There is a tower standing on each end of the bridge. Both the Staroměstská věž on the Old Town end and the Malostranská věž on the Malá Strana end can be climbed for a view of Prague and the bridge from above.
Here at my "Travelogue" you can see more photos of this great Bridge ... .
Charles Bridge Travelogue
Charles Bridge throngs with people during the day. Street artists sketch and musicians play; look out for the jazz band, who are particularly entertaining. But for a truly romantic and less crowded stroll, try early morning or any time in the evening. Enjoy ... :)
It is nigh on impossible to find fault with the Charles Bridge - other than with the hundreds of fellow tourists that you are likely to have to share it with!
The bridge dates back to the 15th century and was built over the Vltava to link the Castle at Hradcany to the Old Town. It was built in a Gothic style with a tower on the Old Town side, and has been modified over the centuries, most notably with the addition of 30 mostly Baroque statues which line each side. It is a little disappointing to discover that the statues are in fact replicas, as the originals have been progressively replaced since the 1960s and transported to the National Museum for safe keeping.
Perhaps the most famous event to take place on the bridge was the execution of St John Nepomuk, the patron saint of the Czech Republic, who was cast into the Vltava in 1393 on the orders of King Wenceslaus, King of the Romans and King of Bohemia. Wikipedia says that "he was the confessor of the queen of Bohemia and refused to divulge the secrets of the confessional. On the basis of this account, John of Nepomuk is considered the first martyr of the Seal of the Confessional, a patron against calumnies and, because of the manner of his death, a protector from floods". Obviously not a candidate for reality TV then ...
The bridge has come it for more than its fair share of battering over the years: in addition to damage incurred during armed conflict (most notably by the Swedes during the Thirty Years War), it has also been hammered by severe floods which have damaged the structure on several occasions.
The bridge was closed to vehicle traffic in the late 1970s and is now a pedestrian zone. During the day, the bridge is a hive of activity, with the retail needs of the crowds of tourists ably catered for by a host of artists, craftsmen and buskers plying their respective trades. Many of the goods are of excellent quality - I particularly like the black and white photography which further enhances Prague's fairytale qualities.
In order to avoid the crowds, try to visit in the early morning when there are fewer people around (and the light is great for photography) - it is also lovely in the evening when the twinkling lights shimmer on the water.
Connecting the old town the Mala Strana and the castle district is one of Prague's star attractions: Karluv Most (Charles Bridge). It is considered one of the most impressive Gothic constructions in the world, and tourist crammed half a kilometer length is flanked by 30 outstanding Baroque statues. It's also a cultural icon of some note, appearing in films, computer games and music videos, including the original Mission Impossible movie.
The bridge offers great views of the old city and castle district, but the best views have Charles Bridge in as well. For these you'll want to take a trip across Manesuv Bridge to the north, and walk down Smetanovo street to the south.