This unique, extremely old and beautiful bridge is something Prague can be really proud of. It connects the Old Town (Staré Město) and the Lesser Town (Malá Strana) and is one of the most famous buildings that were built during the reign of Charles IV.
Let´s explore together the very old history of this remarkable bridge. There hasn´t always been a bridge across the Vltava River. Centuries ago, people had to wade the river whenever they wanted to get to the other side. The first bridge, which can be considered as a Charles Bridge´s predecessor, is a wooden bridge from the 10th century. In the years 1158-1172, a famous stone bridge was built. Queen Judita Durynská, Vladislav II´s wife, was the person who required building that bridge, which was named by her then – Juditin most (Judith´s Bridge). It was more than 500m long and 7m wide and it´s said to have been built from red sandstone. Judith´s Bridge is famous for its 27 vaults above the river.
Unfortunately, in February 1342 it had to be pulled down because of a large flood that was caused by ice melting. Nowadays, only fragments of the Judith´s Bridge can be seen sometimes when the river level is low enough.
After that, the idea of creating a new bridge has been discussed very often. It was necessary to build a new one. Therefore the king Charles IV, who ruled in Bohemia in the 14th century, called the most important astrologers to identify the best time for building. Charles IV himself then laid the foundation stone of Charles Bridge on the 9th July 1357 at 5:31 exactly. Petr Parléř was a famous architect, who was responsible for the construction. Charles Bridge was completed after his death in early 15th century, when the king Wenceslas IV ruled.
Charles Bridge is 516m long, 10m wide and is supported by 16 pillars. There are mighty towers (Tower of the Old Town and Tower of the Lesser Town) at both sides that guard the bridge. Everything is in the Gothic style. There are also 30 statues and groups of sculpture (their placing along the parapet of the bridge began in 1657; one of the artist who designed them was J. Brokoff), but most of them must have been replaced with copies because the originals are made from sandstone, which can be easily damaged by pollution. They are kept in the Lapidarium of the National Museum. In 1890 two of its arches had to be rebuilt because of another destructive flood.
There are many legends about the Charles Bridge, but the most known is the one about using eggs and milk while building it so that the bridge would get stronger. This legend has never been confirmed, but scientists from one of Prague Universities admitted wine and milk were found in the mortar.
Charles Bridge offers unusual views of the city and it should be your duty to go across it while passing by!