The Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic
The Charles Bridge is one of the most important historical landmarks of Prague in the Czech Republic, and it was originally built to replace a much older bridge named Judith Bridge that was constructed between 1158 and 1172. The Charles Bridge was named after King Charles IV who commissioned its construction in 1357. Initially called the Stone Bridge, this landmark was finalized in 1402 and it represented the only means of crossing the river Vltava for hundreds of years, until 1841 to be precise. Apart from this, the bridge also linked the Prague Castle with the city’s Old Town, and it allowed Prague to become a very important trade route between Eastern and Western Europe.
The bridge is 1,692 feet long as well as 31 feet wide and it is supported by 16 arches. Out of the three towers that flank it – the old town tower is by far the most impressive since it is widely regarded as one of the most incredible civil gothic-style buildings on the planet. Another major attraction of the bridge comes in the form of its 30 statues, a large majority of them being constructed in baroque-style. Due to the numerous catastrophes that befell the bridge throughout its long existence, the original statues were replaced by replicas. The original works of art were placed between 1683 and 1714 and they were created by some of the most talented and respected sculptors of their time including Ferdinand Maxmilian, Matthias Braun and Michael Joseph. The most exquisite statues include the representations of the Holy Crucifix, of St. Luthgard and of St. John of Nepomuk. As we mentioned before, the statues were replaced by replicas over time, while the originals are currently on display at Prague’s National Museum.
The calamities we mentioned before include a widespread array of floods that severely damaged the Charles Bridge whenever they occurred. The structure was always restored more or less according to its original layout, with its most recent reconstruction taking place between 2008 and 2010. This included the application of a new hydro isolation system as well as the replacement of many stones in the bridge’s walls. This replacement of stones stirred quite a bit of controversy, since the new ones do not match the original stonework in terms of design.