Sunday, August 5, 2007

Prague - Charles Bridge - Vltava River

1.  History

Vladislaw II.  Use of this site to cross the Vltava River extends back to wooden structures until 1158 CE, when a stone bridge was constructed nearby and replaced the more precarious wooden structure. This was during the reign of Vladislaw II, Duke and then King of Bohemia.

This stone bridge was one of the earliest European stone bridges since the fall of the Roman Empire. It was named in 1172 to honor Vladislaw's then wife, Judith of Thuringia, and named the Judith Bridge. This one was destroyed during floods in 1342.

Charles II.  In 1357, Charles II commissioned this bridge, dubbed the Stone Bridge, and only renamed to honor a later Charles, Charles IV, in 1870. That old bridge stood alone as passageway across the Vltava until 1742. See

 Prague, the Charles Bridge. Statues, musicians.

The Charles Bridge now boasts some 30 Baroque-style statues of saints. The first was erected in 1683.  For photos, try

 Some saints are familiar already, like Saint WenceslasThe bridge is a place of some tribute, but mostly small-commerce, hawkers, fakes, with many earnest and dedicated musicians amid them, and some nonsense for all the rest of us. For example, enjoy this a one-man band, with the view back to New Town, complete with umbrella against the drizzle. Street performers take up temporary or permanent residence.

Orientation:  At the far end is the 11th Century Powder Gate, the dark-stone tower; and Wenceslas Square, located at the dome.

The Charles Bridge became a pedestrianized bridge recently, in 1950.

2.  Size; protection.

Charles Bridge, Prague.  Arches.

The Charles Bridge:  It is long.  It boasts 16 arches, and four carriages could cross abreast, or passing one another. The riverbank at the section of Prague known as New Town is here to the left, the opposite area to the right is the Little Quarter. The hillside leads up to the castle and St. Vitus Cathedral area.

The bridge requires icebreakers, here affixed to the base of the support piers to the bridge. 

Charles Bridge, Prague.  Icebreaker structures at the piers.

The massive bulwarks break up the ice before the chunks can smash the bridge.

Icebreakers, Charles Bridge, Prague


He appears twice: here at one end of the bridge in company with St. Norbert and St. Sigismund, not shown; and here on his own at the other end of the bridge. Begin and end with Wence. From whence.


Other saints become familiar because of statues in other towns,.

For example, Saint John of Nepomuk who was an advisor to a queen and thrown off a bridge for refusing to break her confidence on demand of the king. He is at many, if not most, bridges. He joins the other saints on the bridge. See him here:; and for the encyclopedic summary (check facts yourself) at

xxxThe Vltava River, has flooded often - see the water levels on the ladder-marker on the bank. See See photos from disastrous 2002 at
See gallery of flood photographs at;

Take a little boat trip, or a long one, now that all is quiet again. Go down the stairs to under the bridge at the New Town side, choose your size boat, get a free beer or soda, and bag of pretzels, and wait for the boat to fill. Not long. And the wait is sweetened. There is even music.


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