Sunday, December 15, 2013

It is a nice place for Walking and City walk sightseeing in Prague.

The Charles Bridge is a famous historic bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century. The bridge replaced the old Judith Bridge built 1158–1172 that had been badly damaged by a flood in 1342. This new bridge was originally called the Stone Bridge (Kamenný most) or the Prague Bridge (Pražský most) but has been the "Charles Bridge" since 1870. As the only means of crossing the river Vltava (Moldau) until 1841, the Charles Bridge was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city's Old Town and adjacent areas.

This "solid-land" connection made Prague important as a trade route between Eastern and Western Europe. The bridge is 621 m long and nearly 10 m wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards. It is protected by three bridge towers, two of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the third one on the Old Town side.

Rev "This place was amazing. The beautiful Gothic features that lines the bridge us spectacular. Only 10 minute walk from old town. Definitely a must see in prague!!"
The Old Town bridge tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil Gothic-style buildings in the world. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, originally erected around 1700 but now all replaced by replicas.

Throughout its history, the Charles Bridge suffered several disasters and witnessed many historic events. Czech legend has it that construction began on Charles Bridge at 5:31am on 9 July 1357 with the first stone being laid by Charles IV himself. This exact time was very important to the Holy Roman Emperor because he was a strong believer of numerology and this specific time, which formed a numerical bridge (1357 9, 7 5:31), would imbue Charle's Bridge with additional strength.

Rev "Second trip to Prague and still had to come back here. Last time the bridge was under renovations, this time we could get close to statues. Strolling at night in December while snowing was really quite quaint."
Given the bridge's long life perhaps the Emperor's belief holds some weight, though the bridge has see its fair share of tragedy. A flood in 1432 damaged three pillars. In 1496 the third arch (counting from the Old Town side) broke down after one of the pillars lowered, being undermined by the water (repairs were finished in 1503).

Rev "My partner and came on Dec 12th leaving on the 16th and so far ,everything I had hoped for .staying at the casa Marcello hotel warm and very comfortable.and good location,is just round the corner from old town square,Christmas market.excellent.first thing you will see is the amazing Christmas tree.we have walked to Charles bridge from here then onto the castle ,which is straight over the bridge and keep walking you can't miss it .cold and misty past few days .so highly recommend thermal socks,comfy footwear ,scarves ,hats ,gloves,a good warm coat. and ladies if wearing jeans, tights under ,to keep the heat in.gents maybe thermal longjohns just incase .come prepared out all day does get very chilly .so far Charles bridge,and the castle have been so good to see day and night .will review after 17th again .."
A year after the Battle of White Mountain, when the 27 leaders of the anti-Habsburg revolt were executed on 21 June 1621, the Old Town bridge tower served as a deterrent display of the severed heads of the victims to stop Czechs from further resistance. During the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648, the Swedes occupied the west bank of the Vltava, and as they tried to advance into the Old Town the heaviest fighting took place right on the bridge. During the fighting, they severely damaged one side of the Old Town bridge tower (the side facing the river) and the remnants of almost all gothic decorations had to be removed from it afterward.

During the late 17th century and early 18th century the bridge gained its typical appearance when an alley of baroque statues was installed on the pillars. During a great flood in 1784, five pillars were severely damaged and although the arches did not break down, the traffic on the bridge had to be greatly restricted for some time.

Rev "Felt the history despite the craft stalls. Great views from the bridge, several statue and brass touching rituals going on at certain points. Great atmosphere."
The original stairway to Kampa Island was replaced by a new one in 1844. The next year, another great flood threatened the bridge, but the bridge escaped major damage. In 1848, during the revolutionary days, the bridge escaped unharmed from the cannonade, but some of the statues were damaged. In 1866, pseudo-gothic gas lights were erected on the balustrade; they were later replaced with electric lighting. In the 1870s, the first regular public-transport (omnibus) line went over the bridge (officially called "Charles Bridge" after 1870), later replaced by a horse tram. The bridge towers underwent a thorough reconstruction between 1874 and 1883.

Rev "For me Prague was all about Charles Bridge. I could've stood on it all week long, day and night watching the river, the people walking up and down laughing, the boats sailing across, the lights across the city, the castle lit up at night. What's not to like?! It's beautiful."
On 2–5 September 1890, another disastrous flood struck Prague and severely damaged the Charles Bridge. Thousands of rafts, logs and other floating materials that escaped from places upstream gradually formed a huge barrier leaning against the bridge. Three arches were torn down by the great pressure and two pillars collapsed from being undermined by the water, while others were partly damaged. With the fifth pillar, two statues St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Xavier, both by Ferdinand Brokoff – also fell into the river. The former statue was replaced by a statuary of Saints Cyril and Methodius by Karel Dvořák; the latter was replaced by a replica of the original. Repair works lasted for two years (the bridge was reopened on 19 November 1892) and cost 665,000 crowns.

Rev "This is a beautiful walking bridge with statues that are centuries old. You'll find artist's selling their paintings on days with good weather and the views of the city are wonderful. Walk it at night when the buildings are illuminated. It's spectacular."
In the beginning of the 20th century, the Charles Bridge saw a steep rise of heavy traffic. The last day of the horse line on the bridge was 15 May 1905, when it was replaced with an electric tram and later, in 1908, with buses. At the end of World War II, a barricade was built in the Old Town bridge tower gateway. A capital repair of the bridge took place between 1965 and 1978, based on a collaboration among various scientific and cultural institutes. The stability of the pillars was reassured, all broken stone blocks were replaced, and the asphalt top was removed. All vehicular traffic has been excluded from the Charles Bridge since then, making it accessible by pedestrians only. The repair cost 50 million crowns.

During the 1990s, some people started criticizing the previous reconstruction of the bridge and proposing further work. As of the beginning of the new millennium, most of the experts appeared to agree that the previous reconstruction had not been flawless but disputed the need for further interference with the bridge.

Rev "Wonderful views and lots of restaurants nearby, busy at times BUT it is a tourist attraction so that's to be expected."
However, after the disastrous floods of 2002 (which themselves caused only minor harm to the bridge), support for an overall bridge reconstruction grew. It was decided that repair and stabilization of the two pillars (numbers 8 and 9) on the Malá Strana side of the bridge would be done. These are the only river pillars that were not repaired after the 1890 floods. The reconstruction was a gradual process that closed off parts of the bridge without closing the span entirely. Performed from 2008 to 2010, the work included bolstering the pillars and building a new hydroisolation system protecting the bridge.

Rev "We went early in the morning and it was misty. This made this medieval bridge come to life with the statues emerging from the fog as you walked across it. 2 hours later the bridge gave another lighter impression as it was bathed in sunshine."
It also encompassed the replacement of many of the stones in the bridge walls, a matter which was controversial due to a heavy-handed approach adopted by the restoration team. The result has been criticised by conservation professionals all over Europe. Dozens of new replacement "stones" do not match the historical ones they are next to.

The avenue of 30 mostly baroque statues and statuaries situated on the balustrade forms a unique connection of artistic styles with the underlying gothic bridge. Most sculptures were erected between 1683 and 1714. They depict various saints and patron saints venerated at that time.

Rev "Wide and open, giving lovely views up and down the river. Beautiful decorations on the roof of the tower. Avoid the beggars as they will follow you noisily if you give anything. Lots of picture oportunities."

The most prominent Bohemian sculptors of the time took part in decorating the bridge, such as Matthias Braun, Jan Brokoff, and his sons Michael Joseph and Ferdinand Maxmilian. Among the most notable sculptures, one can find the statuaries of St. Luthgard, the Holy Crucifix and Calvary, and St. John of Nepomuk. Well known also is the statue of the knight Bruncvík, although it was erected some 200 years later and does not belong to the main avenue. Beginning in 1965, all of the statues have been systematically replaced by replicas, and the originals have been exhibited in the lapidarium of the National Museum.

Rev "to get great views of he city and the river ,its a most do during a stay in Prague .and maybe the best chance to take pictures and enjoy the scenery ."


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