Charles Bridge - History and Facts | History Hit

Charles Bridge

Prague, Prague, Czech Republic

Charles Bridge crosses the river Vltava between Old Town and Lesser Town and dates back to the 14th century.

Image Credit: DaLiu / Shutterstock

About Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge (Karluv Most) is an iconic bridge in Prague that crosses the river Vltava.

History of Charles Bridge

Construction of Charles Bridge began during the reign of Charles IV in 1357 to replace the Judita Bridge which had been damaged by a flood in 1342. When it was completed at the beginning of the fifteenth century, Charles Bridge, then known as “Stone Bridge” was the only means the of crossing the river, a vital connection between Prague Castle and the Old Town and a trade route. It was renamed as “Charles Bridge” in 1870.

This impressive 516 meter-long gothic bridge is made of Bohemian sandstone, with sixteen arches and three towers. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Charles Bridge was adorned with around thirty Baroque statues depicting saints and patron saints, and although there are now over seventy statues on the bridge they are all copies, the originals having been damaged, destroyed or moved for safekeeping. Many of them are now housed in Prague’s National Museum.

Charles Bridge has been the site of many important historical events in Czech history. In the 17th century, it was where the heads of those executed following the anti-Habsburg revolt were displayed, and it was the scene of ferocious fighting during the Thirty Years’ War. The bridge has also been subjected to many natural disasters, including several floods dating back as far as the 15th century.

Charles Bridge today

Today, Charles Bridge is a vibrant tourist attraction, with painters, traders and kiosks sprawled across it. Keep one eye out for pickpockets and the other on the view. The bridge itself is enchanting and offers great views of the city. Go early or late to avoid the crush of tourists in the middle of the day in high season.

Getting to Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge spans the Vitava – it’s hard to miss. Head west from Old Town Square down Linhartska and then on to Karlova, which will take you straight to one edge of the bridge. The bridge joins the west bank of the Vitava close to the Lennon Wall.

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