History

Charles Bridge is Prague’s oldest bridge. Its foundation stone was laid by Charles IV as part of a ceremony held on 9 July 1357 and the construction stretched almost for the rest of the 14th century. In 1378, Charles’ remains were taken across the new bridge to Prague Castle to be buried in St. Vitus’ Cathedral.

The bridge, officially named Charles Bridge in 1870, was built a bit south of the place of the former Judith Bridge built sometime before 1167 and named after the wife of king Vladislav I. Charles Bridge is 9.40 m wide and over 515.7 m long and rests on sixteen roundel arches. Its construction was managed by the builder of St. Vitus’ Cathedral, Peter Parler. Like Judith Bridge, Charles Bridge was closed with fortified towers at both banks.

During the centuries, the bridge has witnessed wild times, from the Hussite Wars to the foray of the Passau army in 1611 to the period after the Battle of the White Mountain when the heads of twelve Czech noblemen decapitated in Old Town Square on 21 June 1621 were hung from the battlements of the Old Town tower as a warning for ten years. During the siege of Prague by the Swedish army in 1648, it was the place of the fiercest clashes and in 1848, students built barricades here. The bridge was also endangered, and sometimes damaged, by floods, with the largest in 1432, 1496, 1784 and 1890 and most recently in 2002.