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I was in Prague in mid December 2009 visiting the Christmas markets and having a bit of a pre-holiday season break.
I had two guidebooks, both of which highlighted the Charles Bridge as a point of interest and as a sight that must be visited while in Prague. To be honest, if you're planning to cross the Vltava River, which I'm sure any tourist would do at some point, then you're almost sure to see the Charles Bridge as it is undoubtedly the most famous and popular way to cross the river. We walked over the Charles Bridge when visiting the castle as it seemed fitting that we would be walking over the bridge which used to be the only construction that linked the Old Town to the castle complex.
The Charles Bridge was constructed under the reign of Charles IV in 1357 and it is often considered to be one of the world's most striking examples of gothic architecture that are still in existence.
During the day the bridge was busy......packed with tourists, artists, musicians, street-performers.....everyone seemed to be here! Having said that, despite the crowds, it was still very relaxed and once we moved past the entrance to the bridge, the crowds thinned and it became possible to stroll across the bridge and take in the views. The views of the castle are breathtaking from the bridge, as are looking back at parts of the Old Town and out across the River Vltava itself. I spent about half an hour just stood on the bridge looking out at the views and feeling that I'd stepped back a few hundred years in time. Every now and again a street trader would remind me that I was firmly in the 21st century, but they were mostly unobtrusive and allowed me to enjoy the experience.
There are statues all along the bridge, mostly depicting saints that I'd never heard of, but they are intricately carved and add to the overall gothic-ness of the area. I have one or two photos of me posed by various statues....which at the time seemed like a good idea!
By night, the bridge is even more gorgeous as it is lit up and the mixture of the lights and the shadows on the bridge, together with the sound of the river and the views of Prague at night, make for a very romantic atmosphere where compelled me to reach out for my partners hand as we walked along the bridge together in silence. At night the bridge is empty apart from the odd couple or pedestrian making their way over.
You can take tours across the bridge and there were several guides waiting at the entrance to the bridge, but to be honest, unless you're particularly interested in history or architecture then I wouldn't recommend it. We did listen in to a few guides talking to tourists and I would have got bored after a few minutes. We found our Time Out guidebook provided us with enough information to inform us of a few key facts without bombarding us.
I would recommend visiting the Charles Bridge to anyone who is visiting Prague.
If you ever visit Prague, it is inevitable that you will cross Charles Bridge (Karlov Most). I would recommend crossing it four times. Once in each direction at day, once in each direction at night. Charles Bridge is one of the greatest free attractions in any city in the world. Take your time and check out each of the statues along the way. Although I'm no expert, I'm told that they date back to the 1700s. As well as these statues, you will encounter various musicians and artists. One night, my wife and I stopped to listen to a man playing classical music on wine glasses. He was incredible.
The bridge gets very busy at daytime and the crowding can make it a little more difficult to appreciate the beauty of the bridge. The reconstruction of the bridge does little to help, with various sections being scaffolded and blocked off. However, return at night and you should get a lot more space, as well as incredible views of the city.
No trip to Prague would be complete without crossing it.
Before I visited Prague I heard from a few people that Charles Bridge was certainly a 'must-see attraction' in Prague, but I should also be prepared for 'huge crowds' and being unable to move. I'm not too keen on crowds, but I did want to visit this famous bridge and decided I would just grin and bear it, whilst also securing all my belongings after hearing stories of pickpocketing.
Thankfully on my visit to Prague at the end of June 2009 I discovered a less-than-packed Charles Bridge. I put this down to the weather, the whole 4 days I was in Prague it was raining and miserable, whilst this didn't bother me, it obviously kept many of the tourists away!
Charles Bridge is a famous historical bridge that crosses the Vltava river. The construction of the bridge began in 1357 under the reign of Charles IV, and was not finished until the beginning of the 15th century.
During the day you'll find the bridge to be full of painters and kiosk owners selling everything from handmade jewellery to photos and paintings of Prague. It was nice to stroll along the bridge taking in the view of Prague Castle, and stopping to browse some of the artwork along the way. I wasn't 'hounded' by people, unlike Paris when I walked along one street and artists were standing infront of me, waving paper and pens frantically. I noticed each of the kiosks displayed a license stating that they are allowed to trade on the bridge. We also saw the occasional beggar doing that bowed over pose that they all seem to do in Prague.
The statues on the bridge are impressive to look at, despite them not being the original statues which are now stored in the National Museum. However they are certainly interesting to look at and really give the bridge it's gothic feel. On the Old Town side of the bridge you can see the wonderful gothic Old Town bridge tower, which is open for you to climb up (at a price) until quite late in the evening.
There was some work being done on the bridge during our visit, meaning some parts were cornered off, it appeared they were replaxing the stone floor. If it had been very busy this would have caused quite a crush, but we never had any problems with the bridge being busy, as it wasn't.
At night the bridge lights up in a rather romantic fashion, and I took a lovely photo of the bridge at night. With the impressive lit up Prague Castle in the background it makes for a lovely evening stroll. The crowds also die down on an evening and there's more room as the traders have long packed up for the night. One evening of our stay we walked along the bridge and saw a woman put a pie out on her window sil to cool, we found this quite amusing! Then we heard wonderful singing and music. At first we couldn't figure out where this was coming from, until we realised it was coming from under the bridge. We quickly walked round to come under the bridge, and a large choir had set up drawing in quite a small crowd under one of the arches of the bridge. It was a lovely evening standing there watching this choir, and certainly sticks in my head.
You may notice people stroking one of the statues on the bridge. This is a superstition, where if you stroke the Saint falling from the bridge you will have good luck. Just next to it is a small dog, and if you stroke that you also have good luck, though the dog is a more recent one! We watched a tour guide convincing his group to stroke the statue, it was quite funny to watch!
Also near the end of the bridge there's a house which has a picture of the Virgin Mary and a small lampost infront of it. Apparently if you see the light go out on the lampost then a death is imminent.... thankfully the lamp didn't go out for us ;)
I highly recommend visiting Charles Bridge, especially in the evening when it makes for a romantic stroll.
Me and my partner visited Prague for a 5 day holiday last year and it is such a magical place that I would recommend anyone going. The Charles Bridge in particular holds a special place in my heart since visiting and I can still remember the first time when I rounded the corner and saw the Charles Bridge standing there proudly displaying all its glory. The view before you walk onto the Charles Bridge is spectacular, overlooking the bridge, the castle and the river....one of the best views I've seen in the world.
Walking onto Charles Bridge is amazing as you can sense the culture of Prague and the history of the bridge itself is outstanding. Old fashioned lamps and historical statues line the bridge and they are really interesting to learn about if you read the signs underneath the statues.
There are lots of artists who line the Charles Bridge displaying their work of Prague ready to sell. I was lucky enough to be able to purchase a gorgeous photograph of the Charles Bridge at a really reasonable price. This is now on show in my lounge back home and reminds me of my really fond memories of the Charles Bridge and Prague in general. :-)
I was lucky enough to visit Prague last year and as Colin & I arrived in March, it was about 12 below zero and snowing. Perfect! Charles Bridge was one of the highlights of our trip, especially because you seem to step on in one world, and when you reach the end you are in another.
We headed on to the Bridge expecting just a bridge but it is full of culture, life, music, and artists. The Bridge has been used in many films over the last 10 years and i found it a really inspiring place to be. The bridge takes you from the Old Town to the Lesser Town. The Old Town is full of gothic arcitecture that can only be admired and then admired again. The Lesser Town was like stepping into Bavaria, a total contrast to the opposite end.
In between all this, we walked in the freezing cold with the wind whipping at our faces and the nip in the toes, to see it was alive with people selling their wares and willing to entertain us in many languages with their music and artistry. The statues that adorn the bridge, all erected in the 1700's are beautiful and add to the historical, almost victorian feel of the bridge. I almost expected Dracula to come swooping down at any moment, as the city as well as the Bridge has such a gothic feel to it. I believe it gets very busy in the summer so go for the snow, it adds to the whole ambience.
I filmed this Bridge and often look back on the footage with such good memories. Beautiful, inspiring, just lovely.
Erm...though seems a bit inappropriate to complain about tourists when you've just visited a landmark in a foriegn country AS a tourist, that said, the Charles Bridge is, in most daylight hours so tightly packed with crowds and crowds of tourists, that crossing it makes for a rather claustrophobic experience really. The structure itself is something else - with huge square towers at both ends and great gothic statues at regular intervals on both sides. The wide river Vlatava that flows beneath it is an equally impressive sight - and the 'undercarriage' of the bridge - you can pass under the stone arches of it at the ends - is also quite atmospheric. But, as a tourist, your primary function in life seems to be fleeced by local tradesmen, and there are unfortunate reminders of this throughout this area. The bridge itself has dozens of cartoon artists and bridge artists set up right along its length - they will draw your caricature while you wait or, if you prefer, you could buy a picture of the bridge, or failing that a caricature or pencil sketch of your favourite movie star from them. Of Angelina Jolie, for example (who may or may not have some connection with Prague that I'm not aware of) - Ms Jolie seemed to be a particularly favourite subject for quite a few of these guys. Worse than the artists and hand-made jewellrey touts are the numerous identical Prague souviner shops that crowd the areas on either side of the bridge, however. How anyone ever makes a profit in this environment - where everyone is selling exactly the same - and to be quite honest, godawful ugly tat - has to be one of Prague's great mysteries.
The bridge crosses the Vltava river in Prague. It is 516 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide and is decorated by a succession of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, erected around 1700.