One of the most popular sightseeing in Prague, the bridge is 621 metres long and 10 metres wide, featuring one tower on either side of the river and decorated with 30 statues, most of them baroque style.
The artistic bridge is traffic-free since 1965, allowing pedestrians to enjoy the beauty and atmosphere of this artwork. Musicians, painters, magicians and street actors also use this space to earn their popularity and only adds the romantic air to the cross.
The numerical palindrome 135797531 carved on to the Old Town Bridge Tower at the east end of the bridge is far from random. This sequence, which reads the same backward and forward, refers to the exact time and date of the placement of the bridge’s foundation stone, determined by royal astrologers as an auspicious time. Work began on the 9th of July 1357 at 5.31 AM. Medieval beliefs attributed a magical power to odd numbers and arranged them in a particular way to create a pyramidal pattern symbolic of power.
Once a year on the day of the summer solstice — between June 20 and 22 — the sun sets directly over St Vitus’ Cathedral. If you stand at the Old Town Tower of the Charles Bridge starting about an hour before sunset, you can witness the sun approach the church and then cut across the top of the main tower and set directly over the chancel, to briefly re-emerge from the apse and set again. Some say this divine scene is mere coincidence. However, knowing that Charles IV placed great importance on astrology suggests that he may have meticulously calculated the necessary repositioning of the bridge when building it at a slightly different angle to the Judith Bridge in 1357. The same architect, Petr Parléř, designed both the bridge and the cathedral.
THIRTY YEARS’ WAR
During the end of the Thirty Years’ War, in 1648, the Swedes occupied the west bank of the river, the heaviest conflicts happened right on the bridge when most of the Gothic decoration were damaged and had to be removed afterwards being replaced by the Baroque statues.
The Bridge Tower is open for visitors, offering great views and a little history of the bridge and Prague itself. To learn more about its fees and visiting times, just click here.
During the Advent celebrations, a person wearing period costumes as lamplighter, visit each lamp from 4 pm to light it up as it used to happened before electricity arrived.
The theatre-like activity is on Prague’s agenda for events in the city.