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Throughout its history, the Charles Bridge suffered several disasters 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 severed 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 the Vltava, and as they tried to advance into the Old Town the heaviest fighting took place 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 century and early 18th century 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 did not break down, the traffic on the bridge had to be greatly restricted for some time.

Charles Bridge during 1872 flood
The original stairway to Kampa Island was replaced by a new one in 1844. The next year, another great flood threatened the bridge, but the bridge escaped major damage. In 1848, during the revolutionary days, the bridge escaped unharmed from the cannonade, but some of the statues were damaged. In 1866, pseudo-gothic gas (later changed to electric) lights were erected on the balustrade. In the 1870s, the first regular public-transport (omnibus) line went over the bridge (officially called "Charles Bridge" after 1870), later replaced by a horse tram. The bridge towers underwent a thorough reconstruction between 1874 and 1883.
On 2–5 September 1890, another disastrous flood struck Prague and severely damaged the Charles Bridge. Thousands of rafts, logs and other floating materials that escaped from places upstream gradually formed a huge barrier leaning against the bridge. Three arches were torn down from the great pressure and two pillars collapsed from being undermined by the water, while others were partly damaged. With the fifth pillar, two statues – St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Xavier, both by Ferdinand Brokoff – also fell into the river. The former statue was replaced by a statuary of Saints Cyril and Methodius by Karel Dvořák; the latter was replaced by a replica of the original. Repair works lasted for two years (the bridge was reopened on 19 November 1892) and cost 665,000 crowns.

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