The time has finally come- this week marks my last few days in Prague! Our program officially ended about three weeks ago, but those weeks and even the past two months have absolutely flown by. I’m exceptionally grateful to have had to opportunity to travel beyond the borders of the Czech Republic to Rome, Budapest, Berlin, and Vienna just this past weekend. I’ve hosted several friends and been able to play tour guide, testing the knowledge I’ve obtained over my classes this summer. I think my architecture instructor would be proud of the way I can rattle off hallmarks of the Art Nouveau style as exhibited in Prague architecture. That being said, I’m ready to move on to my next adventure, one that will take me to Amsterdam, Paris, and London! Before I leave I’ll have three days to show my friend, who I will be travelling with, highlights of the city, and our first stop will likely be the Charles Bridge.
The Charles Bridge is one of Prague’s most iconic structures. The bridge was initiated by King Charles IV to replace a previous bridge that was destroyed when the Vltava River flooded. Crossing the bridge will take you from just outside of Old Town over the river to Mala Strana, or Lesser Town. The bridge was originally designed in the Gothic style, elements of which can be seen in the three towers that rise up at either end. The 30 statues that now decorate the sides of the bridge are all replicas that have replaced the damaged originals.
The bridge is a magnet for tourists and therefore a magnet for vendors. The artists and street performers you’ll find there all have a document on display that serves as permits, and the Charles Bridge Artists Association is a “civic non-profit organization” that works to “preserve Charles Bridge’s traditional atmosphere of an open-air gallery.”
The bridge is crowded most hours of the day, and even if you visit the bridge in the early hours of the morning you’ll find a choice few wandering across the stones. My favorite time to go, mostly for the sake of photographs, is just before the sunset. The crowds have usually dwindled and the light is stunning.
I won’t miss the hoards of tourists who wander into my frames, bump into my shoulder, or stop abruptly to take pose-y vacation photos, but maybe once I’m gone those aspects will fall to wayside and I’ll miss the historic atmosphere and old-world charm.