One weekend in Prague, one of my classmates and I decided to join a day tour of Prague. We wanted to know more about the city we had just moved to and were too lazy to do our own research of it!
While we had walked around much of the city in the summer evenings by this point, we knew we were missing what was actually super cool (or even just kinda interesting) in the places we were stumbling across, hence; guided tour.
Now maybe it was because the tour started here (and therefore when I was at peak attention capacity), but what I learnt about The Charles Bridge is genuinely the only information from that (4hour) tour that I can still recall nearly a year later. Or maybe it is just because it does have some super fun facts.
The Day of Construction
The bridges namesake was a superstitious wee man and he had the first cornerstone laid at precisely 5:31am on July 9th 1357; 1357/9/7 5:31. See the pattern? 1-3-5-7-9-7-5-3-1
Astronomical calculations were used to determine this date & time and it is actually inscribed on a building to the right of the Charles Bridge Tower (when facing the bridge with your back to the Old Town).
For a bridge that is only 516m long – that is a lot. Although I guess that is partly what makes it so famous! Over a period of 300yrs from 1628, when the first statue was placed, to 1928 when the last statue was added, these 31 statues are mainly sculptured in a Gothic Baroque fashion.
While 30 of these statues mark the spots between each span (the arches on the bridge where the water flows through), the 31st Statue is a little more hidden, not exactly on the bridge itself but on land at the west end.
Most of these statues are replicas now, as not many man-made things exposed to the elements for 400yrs fare very well – although there are remnants of the originals found in the Lapidarium of the National Museum.
The Legend of the Buried Sword
Okay so that hidden statue that is not exactly on the bridge is of a man named Bruncvik. This guy is the medieval knight who guards Charles Bridge with his white lion. Cool already right?
Legend has it that Bruncvik had a magic sword (I won’t go into how he got this here) and that this sword is hidden within the Charles Bridge. The owner of this magic sword only had to say “Off with all heads!” for their opponents to drop dead.
Continuing with the legend, it is believed that when The Czech Republic is in its darkest hour, the bridge will crack open and the spirit of Saint Wenceslas (some fellow) will wield the sword, defend the country and decapitate all their enemies.
Side fact: the white lion companion of Bruncvik is the two-tailed lion in the symbol of The Czech Republic.
On a lighter note – it was said egg yolks were mixed into the mortar during the construction of the bridge to make it stronger and more durable. Not an uncommon practice in the medieval times but a fun lil fact for sure.