Thursday, October 15, 2015

Sites : Charles Bridge (Karlův most), Prague

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Charles Bridge (Karlův most), Prague
A Unesco Heritage Site
Prague, Czech Republic - September 2015
The Charles Bridge (Karlův most) may not be a long bridge, but it is one place that should not be missed when in Prague. A very old bridge of Gothic design, it's construction was started in 1357 under King Charles IV. Completed in the early 15th century, and was originally called the Stone Bridge. Spanning across the Vltava River, it made Prague important as a trade route between Eastern and Western Europe.
We had the privilege of walking on it during a 2015 holiday trip to Europe.

At 620 metres long and about 10 metres wide, it sits on sixteen arches which are protected by ice barriers at the water level. It connects the Old Town to the Lesser Quarter (Malá Stranaof the Prague Castle district.

As it was an important trade route bridge, it was protected by three towers. The above shows the two towers on the Lesser Quarter side that leads to Prague Castle. All the towers are accessible to the public for a very good panoramic view of Prague Old Town. For opening times and entry rates to the towers, see below.

On the Old Town side there is a single tower. The towers are of Gothic design and are impressive in their stature.

View of the single tower from the Old Town side, showing statues mid-way up.

Close up view of the tower shows the detailing to which it has been constructed.

The Charles Bridge is in fact made up of several bridges, built over one another since the time first was constructed. This is evident from the boat jetty (below the old town tower) where boat tours of the Vltava River starts. From here, the layers of the underside of the different bridges can be seen.

We started our walk along the bridge from the Lesser Quarter side, walking through the arch below the two towers.

From somewhere here, we looked down and saw a canal with the old housed edging it. Prague old town has many canals and is sometimes referred to as the Venice of the North. We later did take a boat cruise sailing through the canals and onto the Vltava River.

At mid-span, we stopped to admire the Vltava River. Upstream there is a low weir.

Down stream there are several new bridges spanning the river.


What makes the Charles Bridge interesting are the many statues (done in Baroque style) that line both sides of the bridge. These statues are impressive and if time permits stop to admire their beauty and the craftsmanship that the artist have put into them. As we were in a bit of hurry to get to the other side of the bridge to start the boat tour at the jetty below the Old Town Tower, and I just took photos as fast as possible as we walked along.

Above is a plan from Frommer's website that names each individual statue; do visit their website as it's great for planning a trip to Prague or other destinations. We started from the Lesser Quarters, and thus saw the statues in reverse order.

Just a bit of detraction here; the bridge is also a favourite spot for wedding couples to take their photos.

One of the metal panel carving at the base of the above statue.

An ornate metal railing.

At the Old Town end of the bridge, next to the Charles Bridge Museum, lovers have put love lock onto a railing there.

While there grab a view of the façade of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi.

And round another corner is a statue of King Charles IV.

It is an intricately carved statue with a beautiful base.

Charles Bridge
110 0, Prague 1, Czech Republic

Opening Hours of Charles Bridge Towers:
1. The Old Town bridge tower is open daily from 10am, closing at 10pm in the spring, summer & autumn and 8pm in the winter.  Adult admission is 75 CZK (2012 Prices). 
2. The Lesser Town (Mala Strana) bridge tower closes an hour earlier and is the same admission price.

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