Sunday, February 21, 2016

Prague's Iconic Charles Bridge

Prague is a medieval city that dazzles at every turn. There are so many historic landmarks crammed into a small area, from Prague Castle to the Astronomical Clock but my favorite is Charles Bridge. Named for Emperor Charles IV and constructed in 1357, a stroll across this bridge offers stunning views day or night. The bridge spans 1,700 feet and connects the banks of the Vltava River. It also boasts 16 arches and 30 baroque statues, which makes Charles Bridge sort of like an outdoor art gallery. Not that you'll be able to view a lot of  the pieces. The bridge is always packed with people, vendors and performers so the sight lines aren't always great but I was lucky to get close to a few of the statues. The one above is often called "The Turk" and depicts St. John of Matha, St. Felix of Valois and St. Ivan. These saints specialized in buying Christian slaves imprisoned by Turks and setting them free. I thought this was the most interesting statue on the bridge, I wasn't familiar with any of the saints but the story is really compelling.

This monument shows Saint Anthony of Padua with baby Jesus. When I snapped the photo, I had no idea who the man was and it looked like a cherub was hanging on him. Apparently, Anthony of Portuguese origin, is the patron saint of  bakers and travelers, which means he is personally significant and very special indeed.

I thought these created a dramatic image against the blue sky. They are of Saint Norbert, patron saint of the Czech Republic, Saint Wenceslas, a martyred Czech prince and Saint Sigismund, a martyr and king.

It's a hectic experience walking through the crowds on Charles Bridge but I think that the art and scenery make it totally worth it.