The Charles Bridge - Karlův Most

The Charles Bridge - called in Czech Karlův Most, but known until 1870 as just Prague Bridge, or the stone bridge, is probably the best-known of Prague's landmarks.

view of the bridgeanother view of the bridge

It is a very impressive structure spanning the Vltava between two stone gateways, and flanked on either side by statuary. It was begun in the 14th century, but the statues are a later addition, starting from around the 1680's. The bridge is now pedestrianised and has become a magnet for tourists and the inevitable buskers and street vendors who depend on the tourists.

One of the earliest sculptures on the bridge was the bronze statue of St. John of Nepomuk, now very worn at the base as many touch it for good luck! He was martyred in 1393 by allegedly being bound and gagged and thrown from the bridge into the river. Many legends attend him, and he was canonized by the pope in 1729. Now there are another 20-odd statues on the bridge. This photo shows the bridge, with the castle hill in the background and the cathedral silhouetted against the sky.

view along the bridge

One interesting statue is the crucifixion statue. There has been a crucifix on the bridge apparently ever since it was built, but the inscription is a later addition. The story goes that a wealthy Prague Jew was found guilty by the city court of blasphemy before the cross, and was ordered to add the inscription. He did so, in Hebrew lettering. The inscription reads: "Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of armies (of angels)". You can see it here.

Jehovah on the statue

The towers at each end of the bridge are very impressive, especially the highly decorated tower on the Old Town side. Apparently, the severed heads of some Protestant leaders were hung on this tower after their execution in the Old Town Square! Gruesome! They were left there for ten years!! The site of the execution is marked in the square by white crosses in the floor. You can go there now by clicking the link to the left, or go to the tower on the bridge to see the view from the top.

on the bridge looking to the Lesser SideLooking to the Old Town