Karlův Most: Charles Bridge
Fifteen years after Prague’s first stone-built river crossing, the Judith Bridge, was washed away by floods, its 16-span replacement – commissioned by Charles IV from master architect Peter Parler – was begun. Tradition has it that the king laid the foundation stone on 9 July 1357 at 5.31 in the morning to reflect the mystical sequence 1-3-5-7-9-7-5-3-1, though there is no sure evidence for this story.
The baroque statues of saints for which the bridge is justly admired are the work of many hands, but not arranged in any overarching plan. Dating from 1683 to 1714, they were placed on the bridge as part of the programme of recatholicization of the Czech lands following the Thirty Years’ War, the final conflict of which had taken place on the bridge in 1648.
The statue of Jan Nepomuk, one of the patron saints of Bohemia, stands at the point where in 1393 he was thrown from Charles Bridge to his death on the orders of King Wenceslas IV. Based on an earlier design by Matthias Rauchmüller, it was sculpted by Jan Brokoff, and cast in bronze by Wolf Herold of Nuremberg in 1683.