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Karlov Most (Charles Bridge) is one of the most iconic sights in Prague. One of several bridges that unite the portions of Prague east and west of the Vltava River, the bridge dates back to 1402 and is lined with 30 statues which were added in the 1700's (although the current statues are replicas of the originals).
Until 1841, this bridge was the only means of crossing the Vltava from Old Town to the Prague Castle. The bridge is guarded by three towers, two on the Lesser Quarter side of the river and two on the Old Town side. According to Czech legend, King Charles IV, the first King of Bohemia to become Holy Roman Emperor, laid the first stone in the bridge at 5:31am on July 9, 1357. The precise time noted in the legend was significant because Charles IV was a follower of numerology and the exact time formed a palindrome, which the king believed would imbue the bridge with strength.
This history of the bridge includes some dark moments. In June of 1621, 27 leaders of an anti-Hapsburg revolt were executed and their heads displayed on the bridge as a deterrent to future rebels. In 1648, toward the end of the Thirty Years' War, the Swedes took the west bank and tried to advance across the the bridge to take Old Town. Fighting on the bridge damaged the tower on the Old Town side of the bridge and the statuary on the bridge had to be removed. The bridge has also been damaged many times over the centuries by flooding, with the most recent renovations taking place within the past ten years. Since the mid 1970's the bridge has been closed to all but pedestrian traffic. Vendors line the bridge selling artwork and crafts to the crowds of tourists who visit the bridge each year.
I love to travel. But if I can't actually leave home, I love to travel to far-off places by reading about them. Each Saturday, I'll be sharing about a specific place I've been to or someplace I've researched and added to my bucket list. Join me on the journey!