Thanks to Engineering and Architecture, we can now take a peek into the construction phases of Charles Bridge, the most iconic and well-known sight of the Czech capital.
In addition to being Prague’s symbol, Charles Bridge is also one of the oldest bridges in Europe at the same time. For a long time, this stone bridge was the only means of crossing the river Vltava creating a connection between the Prague Castle and the city’s old town. The construction of the bridge commenced in 1357, and was finally completed in the beginning of the 15th century. It was built to replace a wooden bridge, the former Judith Bridge, which was badly damaged by a flood in 1342.
The bridge built of limestone is 515 meters long and almost 10 meters wide, with a total of 16 arches. The construction works began with the extraction of raw materials, thus the first challenge was brought by the transportation of materials to the construction site. This was followed by establishing the pillars in the riverbed. After the construction of a few pillars, the engineers proceeded with the stone vaults: they placed regularly machined sandstone blocks on the form work with the help of a wooden scaffolding. The vault was reinforced by another layer of stones and then fully bricked up to the level of the bridge deck. In addition to the massive sandstone blocks forming the mantle of the bridge, they also utilized blocks from the demolished Judith Bridge.