There are several reasons to visit Prague in the Czech Republic and one of those is the Charles Bridge, which leads from the old town area over the Vltava River to the Prague Castle. Prague is extremely popular with tourists and the bridge is no exception, so be prepared for heavy crowds and lots of tour groups when you visit, even during the off-season. Equally impressive as the bridge itself are the guard towers that protect the bridge and which serve as a stunning entrance. The views of the castle from the bridge are quite amazing, but the main attractions of the bridge are the statues that line both sides.
Construction of the bridge began in the 1300’s and it has been damaged and restored many times throughout its history. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the 30 statues and statuaries were added on top of the bridge pillars along both sides of the bridge, greatly enhancing its beauty. Today, as visitors take photographs of the amazing artwork, they are appreciating reproductions as the originals started to be removed in the 1960’s in fear of damage and vandalism. Despite the fact that they are replicas, they still remain quite an impressive sight.
There is one statue on the bridge, the statue of St. John Nepomuk, that is of particular interest to tourists. It is on your right as you head from the old town towards the castle and can be identified by his gold halo and the crucifix in his arms. Below the statue are two plaques, one to the right and one to the left of the statue. Legend has it that if you rub the plaque to the right you will one day return to Prague, while another legend has it that if you rub the plaque to the left, with the dog, you will have good luck. Needless to say, they are just legends, but there are throngs of people lining up to rub the plaques, making them shiny from their efforts.
Today it is a pedestrian only bridge and you will find many street artists and vendors playing music as well as selling arts and crafts. We couldn’t help but purchase a watercolor from an artist along the bridge that we felt truly replicated the feel of being on that historic site. Despite the immense crowds, it was definitely one of those places that when you visit, it stays with you forever. We will always cherish the views of Prague and the castle from the Charles Bridge.