Completed in 1402, King Charles IV ordered the construction of the bridge and laid the first stone in 1357.
The river has character. According to historical events, the force of nature can go wild in this area and floods have occurred. The Charles Bridge still stands despite these uncontrollable natural events and also during gruesome times.
The need for a new bridge was a necessity after the destruction of Judith Bridge by the disastrous flood of 1342. Only a tower on the Lesser Quarter side still bears the name Judith to commemorate the previous bridge that served between 1172-1342.
There are actually three (3) towers that mark each extremity of the bridge: two of them on the Lesser side and one on the old town side, all of which are architecturally stunning. However, historically, the tower was used for a horrific reason. In 1621, twenty-one (21) rebellions were executed in Prague. To discourage other insurgences, decapitated heads were hung on the towers at each end of the bridge for years.
On each side of the bridge, there are a a series of statues (not the originals ones) mostly of venerated religious characters. They were installed after 1683.
One of them is St. John of Nepomuk (the saint of Bohemia) which has a special story linked with the bridge and the royal members. Back in 1393, he was the queen’s confessor. The king had suspicions of his wife’s activities and wanted to know the queen’s confessions. The priest refused to reveal any information since it was protected under the Seal of the Confessional. For his silence, he was thrown into the Vltava River over this bridge where he drowned. If you find a five-star cross embedded in the bridge railing, this is the location where he was martyred.
Until 1741, the stone bridge was the only one in Prague that crossed the Vltava River and it was inevitably the route that the royal family would take to reach the Castle.
It is only since 1870 that the bridge is recognized under the name Charles Bridge. Previously, it was known as the Stone Bridge.1965 was the year that the 515 meter (1690 feet) long bridge became a pedestrian only path though it used to accommodate standard means of transport.
Today this landmark attracts thousands of visitors and it gets crowded. Some painters, artists are spread along the bridge to sell some souvenirs.