Charles Bridge is one of the main attractions of the Czech Republic, a kind of business card of the capital. Covered with many ancient legends, it attracts tourists with its architecture, statues that can fulfill wishes and, of course, wonderful views of the city.
How to build the Charles Bridge: legends and facts
At the site of the modern bridge at the beginning of the XII century there were two more buildings. They were destroyed by the flood, so King Charles IV orders the construction of a new structure bearing his name. Construction has generated a large number of legends.
The most famous of them is: to determine the date of laying the first stone, the king turned to an astrologer for help. According to his advice, the date was set – 1357, June 9 at 5:31. Ironically, the prevailing number – 135797531 – is equally readable from both sides. Karl considered this a sign, and it was on this day that the first stone was laid.
Another legend says that during the construction of the building there was not enough quality material, so the builders used egg white. For large-scale construction required a lot of eggs, so the inhabitants of the surrounding villages were carrying them in huge quantities. The irony of the situation is that many people brought boiled eggs. And yet the material was good, which is why the Charles Bridge is so strong and durable.
Another legend tells about a young man who tried to restore the arch after the flood. Nothing came of it. But suddenly on the bridge he saw the devil, who offered him a deal. The devil will help with the restoration of the arch, and the builder will give him the soul of the person who first passes over the bridge. The young man wanted to finish the job so much that he agreed to terrible conditions. After construction, he decided to lure a black rooster onto the Charles Bridge, but the devil was more cunning – he brought the pregnant wife of the builder. The child died, and his soul wandered and sneezed for many years. One day a belated passer-by, hearing this, said, “Be healthy,” and the ghost rested.
Historical facts say that the construction was led by the famous architect Peter Parléř. The construction continued until the beginning of the XV century, that is, it lasted for half a century. As a result, the eyes of the audience appeared a powerful structure, standing on 15 arches, more than half a kilometer in length, and 10 meters wide. Today it gives the citizens and tourists great views of the Vltava River, churches and palaces of Prague. And in former times there were jousting tournaments, executions, courts, fairs. Even the coronation processions did not bypass this place.
Charles Bridge Towers
The Old Town Tower is a symbol of medieval Prague, a beautiful European structure in the Gothic style. The facade of the tower, facing the Křížovník Square, is striking with magnificence and suggests that the building served as a triumphal arch in the Middle Ages. Tourists wishing to admire the panorama, you can climb the tower, breaking its 138 steps. The view from her is fantastic.
Among the interesting facts about the tower can be identified that in the Middle Ages, its roof was decorated with plates of pure gold. The most important elements of the composition were also golden. Now the facade is decorated with the emblem of the Old Town (at one time it was a separate city) and the emblems of lands and territories belonging to the country during the reign of Charles IV. Close the composition of the statue of King Charles IV and Wenceslaus IV (it was with them erected the legendary bridge). Vojtech and Sigismund – patrons of the Czech Republic are located on the third tier.
Two western towers were built in different years, but now connected by walls and gates. Since at one time they served as fortifications, the decor is almost absent. On the gate shows the coat of arms of the region of Mala Strana and Old Place. Here is also the emblem of the region of Bohemia. The low tower remained from the destroyed Yuditin Bridge. It was originally built in the Romanesque style, but now the tower is rebuilt and belongs to the Renaissance style. On the higher Malostranskaya tower, as on the Old Town, there is an observation deck.
Statues on the bridge
The description of the Charles Bridge cannot be complete without mentioning its statues. The sculptures were not built simultaneously with it, but appeared at the beginning of the XVIII century. Their authors were the famous masters Jan Brokoff with sons, Mathias Bernard Brown and Jan Bedrich Kohl. Since the statues were created from fragile sandstone, they are now replaced by copies. The originals are on display in the National Museum of Prague.
The statue of Jan of Nepomuk (revered in the country of the saint) was created by Jan Brokoff. According to legend, at the end of the XIV century, on the orders of Wenceslaus IV, Jan Nepomukski was thrown into the river. The reason for this was disobedience – the queen confessor refused to reveal the secret of confession. Here is the statue of the saint. The statue is a favorite among tourists, since it is believed that it can fulfill cherished desires. To do this, touch the relief on the pedestal on the right and then on the left. Near the statue is a sculpture of a dog. Rumor has it that if you touch her, pets will be healthy.
The gate at the entrance to the Charles Bridge is another favorite place for tourists. It is believed that kingfishers, carved on it, can also fulfill the desire. To do this, you only need to look for all kingfishers (there are 5). From the first time it is not so easy!
Among the sculptures of Charles Bridge, the oldest is the image of the Bearded Man. This is a self-portrait of one of the builders. Now he is in the clutch of the embankment. It is located at the water level so that city residents can see if they are not threatened with flooding.
There are a total of 30 stone figures. In addition to the above, popular are:
- “The Vision of Saint Luitgard” is a beautiful sculptural group;
- “Crucifixion” – the oldest sculptural group;
- “Turk, guarding the captivity of Christians” – the most popular group;
- The statues of St. Mary, which is depicted in different parts of the bridge with the baby and St. Anna, Thomas Aquinas, and St. Bernhard are also popular. All these works were done by Machiya Vyatslav Yakuly.
Included in the architectural complex and the stairs to Campo – a monumental neo-gothic monument. The staircase leads straight to the island of Campo. It was built in 1844, before this there was a wooden structure.
How to get there?
The bridge connects the historic districts of the Czech capital – Mala Strana and Old Town. The address of the sight sounds simple: “Karlův most Praha 1- Staré Město – Malá Strana”. The nearest metro station and tram stop have the same name “Staromestska”.
In any season, the Charles Bridge is full of tourists. Thousands of people are interested in towers, figures and the history of architecture in general. In addition to curious tourists, you can often meet artists, musicians and merchants here. If you want to feel the mystery of this place in peace and tranquility, come here at night. Good photos are obtained in the evening.
Charles Bridge is the most romantic, beautiful and mysterious place in Prague. This is the pride of all Czech people. You should definitely visit here, because without exception, they can make wishes, admire the surroundings, admire the statues and the decor of the towers.