Prague is one of the most charming cities in Europe. Presently the capital of the Czech Republic, the city is the product of more than 1,100 years of fascinating history.
Originally settled in the 9th Century as the capital of the Bohemian state under Wenceslas I (the same King Wenceslas in the Christmas carol of the same name), the Prague we can still see today resulted from the rule of of King Charles IV, beginning in 1346. He was determined to make Prague the cultural center of Europe.
King Charles' plan was given a huge boost in 1355 when he was crowned the Holy Roman Emperor, making Prague the seat of the Holy Roman Empire. Prague's importance was reflected in many huge building projects, including St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague's New Town, Charles University, Karlstejn Castle and the Charles Bridge.
Prague is a very bustling city. People are out at all hours, and many places draw crowds. But the Charles Bridge continues to hold a special place in the daily life of Prague. Completed in 1402 (that's 90 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue!) It's a very old bridge in a very old town. On the Bridge, the Photographer of Modern Life mingles with ancient history.
More than just a connection between the two sides of the Vltava River, the Charles Bridge serves as a meeting place, a marketplace, and a promenade. Lined with 30 statues of saints, the Charles Bridge resembles more a suspended garden than a throughway. It's a great place to take in the breeze off the river and do a bit of people watching. You'll see plenty of tourists, but also plenty of fashionable locals, as well as more than a few artisans.
There are plenty of places in Prague that compete for your time and attention, but be sure not to leave out this impressive feat of historic architecture. When in Prague, take as many opportunities to cross over the Charles Bridge, especially in the early morning or at late evening when the crowd thins out.