Prague’s oldest bridge, and one of its most iconic structures, is Charles Bridge, which connects Old Town with Malá Strana. Dating to 1357, it was originally called the Stone Bridge, or Prague Bridge, before being named Charles Bridge in 1870, after its founder King Charles IV.
One of the city’s most popular and recognisable sites, Charles Bridge is adorned with 30 stone statues of saints and personages, added between 1683 and 1928; however, these are all replicas today. The originals are housed in the Lapidarium museum in Holešovice. The most famous statue on the bridge is that of St. John of Nepomuk (1345 – 1393), and rubbing his foot is rumored to bring good luck. There’s an earlier legend, though, that says to find the spot where St. John was thrown from the bridge, marked by a small brass cross, and make a wish.
The sandstone bridge replaced the former Judith Bridge, which had been badly damaged by floods in 1342, and served as an important connection for trade between the east and west. It was completed by Petr Parlér, who also designed St. Vitus Cathedral, in 1402. The bridge was open to cars through 1965.
Each end of the 515-meter-long span is fortified by the Malá Strana Bridge Towers and the Old Town Bridge Tower, respectively. The smaller of the Malá Strana towers is a relic of Judith Bridge dating to the 12th century and was used as a jail for more than 200 years. The other was built in High Gothic style, drawing upon Parlé?’s Old Town Bridge Tower. Both are accessible to the public and afford great views.
On the Old Town side, the Bridge Tower is one of Europe’s most striking examples of High Gothic architecture. Completed in 1380, its exterior is richly adorned with sculptures, statues and coats of arms.
Information courtesy of praguewelcome.cz
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