Four years ago I spent Easter break in Prague. One attraction on our list was the Charles Bridge. Knowing the bridge would be busy, we planned to head there early Easter morning. We arrived at the east side of Charles Bridge just after sunrise. The bridge had only a few pedestrians carrying Easter baskets.
Construction of Charles Bridge began in 1357 with the support of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. During his reign Prague became the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. However, the bridge was first called Prague Bridge or Stone Bridge. After 1870, the name shifted to Charles Bridge. The designer and builder was Peter Parler. It took forty-five years to complete. The bridge is nearly 1,700 feet long and thirty-three feet wide. The overpass features thirty statues of saints, all of which are replicas.
The archway has a storied past. It has been damaged by floods several times since 1432. During the Thirty Years War, twenty-seven anti-Habsburg insurgents were executed on the bridge. In 1648, the Swedes who held the western bank attempted to capture Old Town (the eastern side). Much of the fighting occurred on Charles Bridge.
Charles Bridge has been repaired and reconstructed on a number of occasions. From 1874 to 1883 the towers were renovated. A major restoration of the bridge took place between 1965 and 1978. There has been criticism over the need and authenticity of some of the repairs.