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Charles Bridge (Czech: Karlův most listen) is a famous historical bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. Absolute Location: 50°5′11.21″N 14°24′42.68″E. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of 15th century. As the only means of crossing the river Vltava (Moldau), the Charles Bridge used to be the most important connection between the Old Town, Prague Castle and adjacent areas until 1841. Also this 'solid-land' connection made Prague important as a trade route between east and west Europe. The bridge was originally called the Stone Bridge (Kamennż most) or the Prague Bridge (Pražskż most) but has been the "Charles Bridge" since 1870.

The bridge is 516 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards. It is protected by three bridge towers, two of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the third one on the Old Town side. The Old Town bridge tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, erected around 1700.

During the night Charles Bridge is a quiet place. But during the day it changes its face into a very busy place, with painters, owners of kiosks and other traders alongside numerous tourists crossing the bridge.

Throughout its history, Charles Bridge suffered several havocs and witnessed many historic events. A flood in 1432 damaged three pillars. In 1496 the third arch (counting from the Old Town side) broke down after one of the pillars lowered, being undermined by the water (repairs were finished in 1503). A year after the Battle of White Mountain, when the 27 leaders of the anti-Habsburg revolt were executed on 21 June 1621, the Old Town bridge tower served as a deterrent display of the cut-off heads of the victims to stop Czechs from further resistance. During the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648, the Swedes occupied the west bank of Vltava and as they tried to advance into the Old Town, the heaviest fights spread out right on the bridge. During the fighting, they severely damaged one side of the Old Town bridge tower (the side facing the river) and the remnants of almost all gothic decorations had to be removed from it afterward. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries the bridge gained its typical appearance when an alley of baroque statues was installed on the pillars. During a great flood in 1784, five pillars were severely damaged and although the arches didn't break down, the traffic on the bridge had to be greatly restricted for some time.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Additional Photos by Giuseppe Martini (bebep) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 258 W: 456 N: 304] (2089)
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