Ahoj, greetings from the Charles Bridge Museum!
This small, local history museum is located in the Baroque building of the Military Order of the Crusaders of the Red Star which was established by Saint Agnes of Bohemia in 1252. The Crusaders have been the keepers of the bridge since time immemorial.
Construction of the Charles Bridge began at 5:31am on 9th July 1357 – according to Czech legend, Charles IV laid the Bridge’s first stone himself! The start time of the construction was hugely significant to the Holy Roman Emperor as he was a strong believer in numerology. The specific time/date: 1357 9, 7 5:31 forms what is known as a palindrome – a word, number or phrase which reads the same backward as it does forward. This, according to believers, made the Bridge a ‘numerical bridge’ which would instill it with more strength. The numbers can be seen above the museum’s entry sign:
An array of different materials have been used to reconstruct the bridge over the years after the Bridge has been damaged or wrecked by conflict and natural disasters. Displays in the museum showcase scaled down examples of the layers which include sandstone, cemented stone, granite pavement and waterproofing components.
On the upper floor there are recreated scenes showcasing scenes of the Bridge’s construction. Whilst under ground, a large segmented reconstruction the bridge gives a better understanding about the scale of the Gothic bridge and its layered materials.
Alongside these displays, the museum exhibits some beautiful local history artefacts. My favourites are a painted sculpture of Saint John of Nepomuk and a processional sun monstrance.
Left: John of Nepomuk (c. 1345 – 20th March 1393), Saint of the Czech Republic was drowned in the Vltava River after he refused to divulge the secrets of the Queen of Bohemia’s that she revealed in confessionals. Because of the nature of his death, John of Nepomuk is known as the protector from floods and drowning. Right: A processional sun monstrance with an embossed depiction of St. Barbora, 2nd half of the 18th century.
Although small, this museum gives a great insight into the famous Charles Bridge and its history. I would also recommend taking a River Cruise from underneath the Museum to spend an hour taking in the beautiful views of the Vltava River.
Happy Museum Musings!