November 7, 2020 charlesbridgehostel0

Before the Charles Bridge

The first wooden bridge has been documented as early as in the 10th century. This wooden
bridge was destroyed by the big floods. The first stone bridge was built very quickly sometime
between 1158 and 1172 on the order of King Vladislav I. It was named in honor of his consort Judith.
Judith´s Bridge was damaged by the great flood in 1342.

Charles Bridge

In 14th century Charles IV decided to replace the ruins with a stronger bridge. That happened between 1357 and 1402.
Charles Bridge represents the oldest Prague Gothic bridge connecting the Old Town and the
Lesser Town. Initially it was simply known as the Stone Bridge or Prague Bridge. The bridge
has actually been known as“Charles Bridge” since 1870. It is 516 metres long and about 10 meters wide,
and was built of sandstone blocks under the supervision of the architect Petr Parléř. The bridge is
decorated with 30 sculptures and groups of statues.

Towers of the bridge

On both ends of the bridge there are the bridge towers – the Old Town Bridge
Tower and the Lesser Town Bridge Tower. All of them offer beautiful views of the Vltava
river, the Prague Castle complex and other bridges.

Public transport over the bridge

Public transport was used across the Charles Bridge for a long time. In 1883 there was a horse
tram which was replaced in 1905 by an electric tram until 1908 and was later also replaced by
buses. Since 1965 Charles Bridge has been used purely by pedestrians.

Jan Nepomucky

Charles Bridge serves as an extraordinary gallery in the open air – displaying its rich
sculptural decoration. The oldest sculpture was dedicated to St. Jan Nepomucký (John of
Nepomuk). It represents the work of the well known Baroque sculptor Jan Brokoff. It is 2.5
metres high. It was designed after the wooden model which is stored in the church of St. John
of Nepomuk on the Rock. The final sculpture was made from bronze in Nuremberg. Jan
Nepomucký used to be a favoured saint of poor people. The story goes that he refused to tell
the confessional secrets of Queen Žofie to her husband King Wenceslas IV which led to him
being tortured to death. The main attributes of the Jan Nepomucky sculpture include five stars
above his head, surplice, cross and a palm of torture. According to legend stars appeared on
the water surface above his head after he had been thrown from the bridge into the river. Stars
are the sign of the Latin word „tacet“, which means keep silent. On the bridge rail you can
find a five star cross marking the place from where Jan Nepomucky was thrown to his watery
grave.

Legend about the construction

We should also mention the legend about the construction of Charles Bridge. Charles IV
endeavoured to build this bridge as strong as possible so it’s said that raw eggs, curd and wine
were mixed into the mortar. Some of the surrounding towns were thought to have
misunderstood the order of the ruler, and sent hard boiled eggs as well as cheese.

 

Charles Bridge is literally only few steps from our hostel. If you want to stay with us, you can book it here.



November 7, 2020 charlesbridgehostel0

Beginnings of Prague Castle

The Prague Castle was founded in the late 9th century by Prince Bořivoj, the first historically
documented representative of the Přemyslid dynasty. Prince Borivoj ordered the
building of the Castle in AD 870. The first princely palace was probably built of wood, with most attention
being paid to the Christian sanctuaries. The squared Church of Our Lady – Prague Castle‘s first
stone building – was the oldest among them. The Basilica of Saint George and the Rotunda of St.
Vitus were founded in the 10th century.

Romanesque and Gothic period

The Romanesque period had a decisive impact in the development of the Castle. During that time,
the former fortified settlement was transformed into a medieval castle. The new Royal Palace was
built of stone in the first half of the 12th century as well as the new Romanesque fortification
system replacing the ancestral defensive ramparts. Later in the 14th century, during the reign of Charles IV, the Royal Palace was rebuilt in the high
Gothic style. Also the castle fortifications were strengthened.

Jagiellonian era

Further intensive building activities in the Prague Castle complex began in 1485 by King Vladislav
II Jagiello. This development was linked to the name of the royal architect Benedikt Rejt. Rejt built
the Jagiello fortification system on the Southern side of the Stag Moat, as well as Vladislav Hall
the largest secular premises in the Middle Ages.

Habsburg dynasty

The most destructive fire in the history of Prague – in 1541 – reached as far as the area of Prague
Castle. It seriously damaged most of the buildings in the whole complex.
In 1526 Ferdinand I of the Habsburg dynasty was elected to the throne of Bohemia. Even if this
sovereign did not chose Prague as his permanent residence, he initiated the transformation of the
former medieval Castle into a chateau representative of the Renaissance style. New castle was surrounded by
beautiful gardens. His efforts were continued by his successors – Maxmilian II and Rudolph II
who moved their permanent residence to Prague. The Royal Garden was founded as early as in 1534 and during the 16th century, several
Renaissance buildings were built here. For example the Summer palace, the Big and Small Ball Games Hall, the
Lion's court, and a shooting range. Later the cathedral and the royal palace were also
modified in the Renaissance style.

17th and 18th century

Prague castle used to house the valuable and rich collections of Emperor Rudolph II. Unfortunately,
the original collections were reduced by looting of the gallery by the Swedes in 1648, at the end of
the Thirty Years' War.
The last large-scale rebuilding of the castle was carried out in the second half of the 18th century
during the reign of the Empress Maria Theresa.

After the year 1918

After the establishment of the new Czechoslovak state in 1918 , the castle became the seat of the first Czechoslovak President, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk. He invited the Slovenian architect, Josip Plečnik, to modify the whole Prague Castle for
presidential use. The renovations continued in 1936 under the leadership of the architect Pavel Janák who was Plečnik's successor. During the reconstruction of the Castle in 1920 a huge archaeological site was discovered. It proves
that the original Castle complex had the same ‚footprint‘ of today’s castle complex.

Prague Castle Today

Today Prague Castle represents the seat of the head of state as well as the most important of all the
Czech Republic’s cultural and historical monuments. The beautiful coronation jewels of the
Bohemian kings are deposited in St. Vitus Cathedral, as well as the remains of the Bohemian kings,
valuable Christian relics, art treasures and historical documents. While passing through all the
courtyards of the Castle Complex you can enjoy an attractive tour through an important part of
Czech history. In addition to this you can admire beautiful buildings, monuments and so much more.

Living Legend of Prague

Originally, the castle premises included the princely or royal palace, three churches and monastery.
Even though the fortification withstood many fires, invasions and even the World Wars, the Prague
Castle complex has been preserved almost entirely up to the present day. And as time passed, it
became the symbol and living legend of Prague. Prague Castle is also mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records. With an approximate length of 570 meters and an average width of 130 meters, Prague Castle ranks amoungst the largest castle complexes in the
world.

Prague Castle is situated at top of the hill in the Lesser town, only 15 minutes walk from our hostel. If you want to stay with us, you can book it here.