March 11, 2010

Charles Bridge

The bridge was originally called the Stone Bridge (Kamenný most) or the Prague Bridge (Pražský most) but has been the "Charles Bridge" since 1870. The bridge has survived much traffic and natural threats such as floods. Today it’s used as a historical landmark and a footbridge. But tourists and street merchants aren’t the only ones who wander across this bridge—this site also has its share of ghosts. Built in 1357 and commissioned by Charles IV, Charles Bridge connects the Old Town and Malá Strana and crosses the river Vltava. The Gothic structure was built by architect Petr Parlér who also oversaw the building of Prague Castle. Local legends say they mixed egg yolks in with the mortar to make the bridge stronger. 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.

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 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 did not break down, the traffic on the bridge had to be greatly restricted for some time.

In the Middle Ages, when a leader executed a person, the leader wanted the world to know about it. Posting decapitated heads (and other severed body parts) on popular landmarks was common practice all over Europe. But there were 10 particular local lords who had the misfortune of having their heads stuck on poles on the Charles Bridge for years until the flesh rotted away and their skulls were picked clean by the birds.

Today, these 10 lords are said to be walking the bridge—especially at night—singing sad songs and scaring those who pass by wondering who the source of the singing is. But the 10 ghosts aren’t the only lore belonging to the Charles Bridge. A water goblin is said to live under the bridge, who devours the souls of those who drown from falling or jumping off the bridge.

Sources :
Encyclopedia of Haunted Places : “Ghostly Locales From Around The World” by Jeff Belanger;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bridge

Pic Source :
http://www.incoczech.com/charles-bridge-prague-at-night-bigimage357.jpeg

3 comments:

Good day my friend.
And good spring.
Teb.

Hello my friend, thank you very much for your visit, Thursday of successes and peace. Hugs Valter.

Hello my friend, thanks for your visit as well as for the nice message left. Wish you a successful and very happy weekend!

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