This rare, extremely old and splendid bridge is something Prague can be really proud of. It links the Lesser Town (Malá Strana) and the Old Town (Staré Město). In addition, the bridge is one of the most glorious buildings built during the reign of Charles IV.
Let´s go deeper to the very old history of this impressive bridge. There hasn´t always been a bridge across at this place. A long time ago, people had to wade the river whenever they wanted to cross the Vltava River. The first wooden bridge, considered as a Charles Bridge´s predecessor, came from the 10th century. Between 1158 and 1172, a famous stone bridge was built, which was named Juditin most (Judith´s Bridge) by the Queen Judita Durynská, Vladislav II´s wife, who required building that bridge. The bridge was more than 500m long and 7m wide and it´s said to have been built from red sandstone. Judith´s Bridge was famous for its 27 vaults above the river.
Unfortunately, the bridge had to be pulled down in February 1342 because of a large flood caused by ice melting. If you want to see the fragments of the Judith´s Bridge, you must wait until the river level is low enough.
Later, the idea of creating a new bridge has been discussed among people. It was inevitable to found a new one. Therefore the king Charles IV, who ruled in Bohemia in the 14th century, called in the most respected astrologers to define the best time for the start of building the bridge. Charles IV himself then laid the foundation stone of Charles Bridge. This took place on the 9th July 1357 at 5:31 exactly. The architect Petr Parléř, also famous for designing the St Vitus Cathedral in the Prague Castle, was responsible for the construction. Charles Bridge was then completed after Parléř´s death in early 15th century, when the king Wenceslas IV ruled.
As for the figures, Charles Bridge is 516m long, 10m wide and is supported by 16 pillars. The bridge is guarded by two mighty towers (Tower of the Old Town and Tower of the Lesser Town) at both sides, everything 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). However, most of them must have been replaced with duplicates because the originals are made from sandstone and therefore they could be easily damaged by pollution. Nowadays, they are kept in the Lapidarium of the National Museum. Because of another destructive flood in 1890, two of its arches had to be rebuilt.
Charles Bridge also has its legends. The most well-known is the one about using eggs and milk while building it to make the bridge stronger. Scientists from one of Prague Universities did some research and admitted wine and milk were found in the mortar, but they didn´t find any eggs in it. If you are close to the bridge, don´t forget to save some time for visiting one of the most famous historical sight!