The Charles Bridge, located over the Vltata River, in Prague is one of the most highly regarded bridges in Europe. It is approximately 1689 feet across and 32 feet wide and was once the only means of crossing the Vltata River. It is constructed of sandstone and mortar and took approximately 45 years to complete.
Before it was the Charles Bridge, there was a wooden plank bridge. It was only intended for foot traffic and was significantly narrow. It was destroyed in 1157 during a flood. This led to residents to lack adquete infrastructure over the river which caused the ruler,
King Vladislav II to found a new stone bridge. The new stone bridge took approximately 12 years to build and was named the Judith Bridge, after the king’s wife. Unfortunately, the river flooded again in 1342 and wiped out the bridge again. Parts of the bridge still remain at the bottom of the river and the old tower is still in use today.
Since then, the Charles bridge has lasted since its precursor and even pays homage to it in its design. There is a sculpture on one of the towers than signifies the designer of the Judith Bridge. The new bridge began construction in 1357 and was designed by Peter Parler (The father of the architect who designed the Cathedral of St. Barbara). There are 16 pillars that hold the bridge up and it is approximately 43 feet in the air.
It was known as just the “Stone Bridge” or the “Prague Bridge” until 1870 when it was formally named after King Charles IV.
The bridge is designed for the people of the city. The previous two bridges were no longer useful when they could not fit carts and horses across the width. It was also needed. The people had to be able to cross the river and after the other 2 bridges collapsed, something had to be done.
The Towers that accompany the bridge have been added throughout the years as a result of renovations and repairs. They are a signifier of the structure’s style. There are several that are Romanesque and some that are baroque. The elegance of the carvings and sculptures reflect the timing of the erection of the piece on the sculpture.
We can visit this bridge during our outings in Prague, as it is quite large and centrally located. Especially when we go on the River Cruise, I look forward to seeing it from a different perspective.