Prague Hotels Articles

August 27, 2010

Charles Bridge is the Heart of Prague

The ancient splendor and beauty of Charles Bridge, a bridge that is beyond compare, left an impression on my imagination that will never fade.

Richard Wagner (1826)

Charles Bridge is a famous historical bridge that crosses the Vltava River in Prague, Czech Republic. Charles Bridge is a stone Gothic bridge which is a really at the heart of Prague both physically and mentally. It is the connection between the Castle side of the river and the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. It is a constant hub of activity and except early and late is filled with tourists, vendors, artists, craftsmen, musicians and wonderful statues.

The bridge construction was begun under Holy Roman Emperor and Czech King Charles IV in 1357. It was done under the charge of Petr Paler who also did the St. Vitus Cathedral at the castle. It is said that egg yolks were mixed with the mortar to strengthen the construction. 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 erected between 1600 and 1800. 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.

As peaceful and romantic it may seem, the Vtlava River has not always been as calm as it looks today. Its fury, combined with the power of heavy rains have many times flooded and destroyed the bridges and Prague hotelspeople built over it what happened several years ago. Charles Bridge is no exception. It has many times been the victim of floods and natural or human created calamities.

Charles Bridge is on the top of every Prague visitor’s must-see list. It is also popular with Czech artists, musicians and souvenir vendors whose stands line both sides of the bridge year-round. A great time of day to come to the bridge is at sunset when one can enjoy a breathtaking view of the fully lit Prague Castle against the evening sky. The bridge is now a pedestrian zone (although both tram and car traffic were allowed there in the past) and is almost constantly filled with people.

Charles Bridge and other fascinating sights have made Prague one of the most beautiful cities in the world and today tourism is a major force. That is why Prague has a vast selection of Prague hotel, hostels and pensions. With modern technology (see Internet bookings) and more and more specialized travel agencies’ market, Prague is now able to please any tourist with any budget limit, from the most exigent top business traveler to back-packers.

I think most visitors who have walked on Charles Bridge will agree that this part of Prague’s attraction remains their most memorable image of the city. I don’t think you need a guided excursion to Charles Bridge. Just go free and easy, and enjoy the beautiful scenery. One good suggestion – Try to be there early in the morning just when the sun rises (the crowd has not flooded in yet), or late afternoon when the sun goes down. It is the best time to play with your camera.

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