Charles Bridge

Prague, Czech Republic – Prior to leaving for Prague, I’d already compiled a list of things to see. After looking around on the first day, my list was little more than an introduction. Prague has more than a thousand years of history. Far more art, architecture and medieval streets than can be explored in just a couple of days.

Since the stone age, settlements have existed on the site where Prague is today. It was the main settlement of ancient Boiohaemum, homeland of a Celtic tribe called the Boii long before the Roman author Tacitus mentioned it in the 1st century CE. The area was settled by the Slavic Cechy tribe in the 6th or 7th century CE.

The city has been known as Prague (Czech: Praha) since the 9th century. Czech tradition is that Prague was founded by a prophetess named Libussa in the 8th century. Libussa and her husband Premysl are said to be the progenitors of Premyslid dynasty, the rulers of Bohemia until the 14th century.

Old Town (Stare Mesto) – Every foray out in the city included a walk through the Old Town.  Many of the things I’d read about were located in or near here. In the early 12th century, Old Town was a fortified complex of houses, churches, and marketplace on the right (East) bank of the Vltava river, and enclosed by a wall and moat on the inland side.

Clock Tower in Old Town – This is perhaps the most popular building in the Old Town Square (Staromestske namesti). Started in 1338, the Tower was combined with several houses to form the Old Town Hall. The Astronomical clock was added in 1410, with features added in the centuries that followed.

Charles Bridge (Karluv Most) – Continuing west, past the Old Town Square is the Charles Bridge, connecting Old Town with the Lesser Town and Prague Castle. The bridge is named for Charles IV, the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia from 1346 to 1378. The time of Charles IV was the Golden Age of Bohemia. Charles laid the foundation stone of the bridge in 1357, and construction lasted into the next century.