The Charles Bridge is the longest in central Europe

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ikona_disabled22Charles Bridge replaced the Judith Bridge which had spanned the Vltava since the late 12th century. The Judith Bridge was the longest in central Europe (514m long) until it was swept away in a flood in 1342. It was Charles IV’s idea to build a new bridge (originally called simply the Stone Bridge). The first stone was laid in 1357. Charles IV was concerned whether the new bridge would be built properly so that it dd not meet the same fate as its predecessor. He therefore ordered raw eggs to be mixed into the mortar to make it stronger. A study has shown that Petr Parléř, the builder of the bridge, did indeed add raw eggs as well as wine to the mortar!

The striking feature of the bridge’s 520m span and 95m wide roadway is the gallery of 30 mostly baroque statues which date from the 17th, and to a lesser extent, the 19th century, by leading artists of the day (F. M. Brokoff, M. B. Braun, M. V. Jaeckl for example). The oldest statue is the bronze knight called Bruncvík with a lion that stands on a plinth on Kampa Island. The second oldest is the statue of the Holy Cross on the third pillar as one heads from the Old Town Bridge Tower). A Hebrew inscription celebrating the Almighty is draped around the cross. On the penultimate pillar on the right stands the famous Turk guarding a cave where Christians have been imprisoned. This is part of a group of statues representing St John of Matha, St Felix of Valois and St Ivan. Another well known statue is that of St John of Nepomuk and about halfway along the bridge is a relief showing the saint being cast from the bridge. The last statue representing SS Cyril and Methodius was only installed here in 1938.

In the Middle Ages jousting tournaments used to take place on Charles Bridge. Dishonest bakers would be dunked into the icy waters of the Vltava in a special cage from one of the ledges on the bridge.

Contact:

Charles Bridge
Praha 1 – Staré Mesto

Barrier-Free Entry: yes

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