Detailed review by Jamie73
Lydden, United Kingdom
Charles Bridge is probably one of Pragues most recognised landmarks. For many years, Charles Bridge was the only way to cross the River Vltava that flows through the middle of the City. Nowadays there are many bridges connecting Old Town Prague and the New Town but there is still something very special about the Charles Bridge that makes it stand out from all the others.
Charles Bridge is an old stone gothic bridge which is lined with numerous statues of saints. The bridge was built from sandstone blocks and was commissioned by Charles IV, after whom the bridge was named, in 1357. Today, the Charles Bridge can only be crossed on foot, but with it being a very popular attraction in Prague, it is literally crammed with crowds of people all day long. There is no fee for crossing the bridge but tourists are invited to walk up the tower of the Charles Bridge, at a cost of about £2.50 each. We walked up the tower and inside we were shown a video about the construction and history of the bridge which was quite interesting. You can also get lovely views across the bridge from the top of the Tower although its very cramped up there and difficult to walk around. There is also no disabled access.
As you walk across the bridge you will find that there is plenty to look at other than the stunning views from either side of the bridge. Set along the sides of the Charles Bridge are many different street-vendors, painters, puppeteers and musicians.
Items sold on some of the stalls include things such as puppets, dolls, jewellery and paintings as well as a selection of other souvenirs.
There were several stalls offering to draw your portrait or a caricature.
In the 17th century, 30 Baroque statues were placed on either side of the Charles Bridge. Today, most of them are copies as the originals are held in the National Museum to preserve them. For every statue, there is of course a story. One of the most popular statues is probably that of St John of Nepomuk, who was apparently executed during the reign of Wenceslas IV. He was thrown into the River Vltava from the Charles Bridge and his statue is said to stand at the point where this happened. There is a plaque on his statue which tells this story although this is in Czech. Rumour has it that if you touch this plaque, it is meant to bring you good luck and will ensure that you return to Prague again. The statue itself looks quite old but the plaque is gold and gleaming from all the hundreds of thousands of hands that have heard this legend and touch the plaque for good luck. All of the statues depict various saints and patron saints from Prague and they include St Vitus (the Patron saint of dancers), St Francis of Assisi and St John the Baptist. My favourite statue was probably the one which is near enough in the middle of the bridge. It is of Jesus Christ on the crucifix and this was the statue that stood out for me.
There are towers at both ends of the bridge - the Old Town Bridge Tower on the Old Town side and the Lesser Town Bridge Towers on the Mala Strana side. The Lesser Town Bridge Tower is actually the remains of the Judith Bridge which used to stand on this site in the 12th Century. The Old Town Bridge Tower is the tower which you can climb up, and watch the video about the Charles Bridge.
If you are visiting Prague then you definitely have to visit the Charles Bridge. Finding the bridge is easy as it is marked on every single tourist map you can get your hands on. Walking across the bridge itself probably only takes 5-10 minutes but most people stop to either watch the musicians or have a look at the many souvenir stalls. The view from either side of the bridge is beautiful, and you can see right along the river to the other bridges and all the way up to Prague Castle. Personally, I would say that a trip up the Tower is worth the money as you get to find out the history of the Bridge which we found very interesting. I also liked the fact that it was free to walk across the bridge as I fully expected to pay for the privilege. No trip to Prague is complete without a walk across the Charles Bridge.