on September 14, 2009
Before I visited Prague I heard from a few people that Charles Bridge was certainly a 'must-see attraction' in Prague, but I should also be prepared for 'huge crowds' and being unable to move. I'm not too keen on crowds, but I did want to visit this famous bridge and decided I would just grin and bear it, whilst also securing all my belongings after hearing stories of pickpocketing.Thankfully on my visit to Prague at the end of June 2009 I discovered a less-than-packed Charles Bridge. I put this down to the weather, the whole 4 days I was in Prague it was raining and miserable, whilst this didn't bother me, it obviously kept many of the tourists away!Charles Bridge is a famous historical bridge that crosses the Vltava river. The construction of the bridge began in 1357 under the reign of Charles IV, and was not finished until the beginning of the 15th century.During the day you'll find the bridge to be full of painters and kiosk owners selling everything from handmade jewellery to photos and paintings of Prague. It was nice to stroll along the bridge taking in the view of Prague Castle, and stopping to browse some of the artwork along the way. I wasn't 'hounded' by people, unlike Paris when I walked along one street and artists were standing infront of waving paper and pens frantically. I noticed each of the kiosks displayed a license stating that they are allowed to trade on the bridge.The statues on the bridge are impressive to look at, despite them not being the original statues which are now stored in the National Museum. However they are certainly interesting to look at and rteally give the bridge it's gothic feel. On the Old Town side of the bridge you can see the wonderful gothic Old Town bridge tower, which is open for you to climb up (at a price) until quite late in the evening.There was some work being done on the bridge during our visit, meaning some parts were cornered off, it appeared they were replaxing the stone floor. If it had been very busy this would have caused quite a crush, but we never had any problems with the bridge being busy, as it wasn't.At night the bridge lights up in a rather romantic fashion, and I took a lovely photos of the bridge at night. With the impressive lit up Prague Castle in the background it makes for a lovely evening stroll. The crowds also die down on an evening and there's more room as the traders have long packed up for the night. One evening of our stay we walked along the bridge and saw a woman put a pie out on her window sil to cool, we found this quite amusing! Then we heard wonderful singing and music. At first we couldn't figure out where this was coming from, until we realised it was coming from under the bridge. We quickly walked round to come under the bridge, and a large choir had set up drawing in quite a small crowd under one of the arches of the bridge. It was a lovely evening standing there watching this choir, and certainly sticks in my head.You may notice people stroking one of the statues on the bridge. This is a superstition, where if you stroke the Saint falling from the bridge you will have good luck. Just next to it is a small dog, and if you stroke that you also have good luck, though the dog is a more recent one! We watched a tour guide convincing his group to stroke the statue, it was quite funny to watch!Also near the end of the bridge there's a house which has a picture of the Virgin Mary and a small lampost infront of it. Apparently if you see the light go out on the lampost then a death is imminent.... thankfully the lamp didn't go out for us ;)I highly recommend visiting Charles Bridge, especially in the evening when it makes for a romantic stroll.
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