Charles Bridge and the Supernatural: Ghosts of Prague

Charles Bridge and the Supernatural: Ghosts of Prague

Charles Bridge, Prague

Charles Bridge is one of the most historic and beautiful sights in Prague. The stone bridge is not only practical for crossing the Vltava River, it has become a tourist hub with street performers, artists, stores and some of the most stunning sights in town. Construction of the bridge began in 1357 after the Judith Bridge was badly damaged by floods. The bridge wouldn’t be finished until the beginning of the 15th century and wasn’t dubbed as Charles Bridge until the 1870s. Renamed in honor of King Charles IV who was the one who had the iconic landmark built.

Historic Charles Bridge, Prague statue.
One of the many statues placed along the historic Charles Bridge in Prague.

Over the years, this gothic appearing bridge witnessed many historical events. From disastrous floods to revolutions. Further death stained the walls of this important structure, as it was used to display severed heads. Some leaders who were unfortunate enough to face the executioner in Prague during the 1600s would have their decapitated heads suspended from the towers present at each end of the bridge. Grotesquely, many of these heads would remain hanging over Charles Bridge for the next decade.

Gloomy day over Charles Bridge, Prague.
A gloomy day to cross the Charles Bridge and test out its superstitions.

There was even more death to touch the Charles Bridge during its lifetime, some of which created superstitions that remain prevalent to this day.

Charles Bridge and the Supernatural

Charles Bridge has become a place of superstition and the supernatural. This largely relates to the rubbing of significant statues that exist along the bridge. Many visitors will rub certain areas of these brass statues to bring themselves good luck or to ensure they one day return to Prague. The popularity of this act is evident, as many parts of these statues have cleanly polished brass, caused by the constant rubbing of tourists.

Charles Bridge tower.
One of the grand towers that stands at the end of the Charles Bridge.

This supernatural tradition extends from the patron Saint of Prague, St. John. John was murdered on this bridge in 1393, in turn, becoming a martyr for the city and his religion. Legend states that John had a disagreement with the King that cost him his title of bishop. He was then speedily replaced. During this process, the King probed John to release information about what his Queen had confessed to him while he was bishop. John refused to disclose these private confessions, which was to cost him his life.

Superstition on a bridge.
Exploring the superstitions of this famed bridge.

Legend states that John was thrown from the Charles Bridge to his death, which led many to celebrate him and his dedication to the church. One of the most rubbed statues along the Charles Bridge is a depiction of St. John being thrown from the bridge to his death. Followed closely by the nearby depiction of John’s faithful hound.

Views from Prague bridge.
Stunning views surrounding the Charles Bridge.

In addition to this curious practice, some say that the Charles Bridge is likely haunted. Supposedly, many have claimed to sight the headless figures of influential people, who were executed, roaming the bridge. Could it be that they are still in search of their severed heads, suspended above the bridge so many years ago?

Visiting Charles Bridge

The Charles Bridge is open year-round and one of the busiest places in Prague. There is constant foot traffic crossing the bridge and lines to rub certain brass statues may be present. If you enjoyed this article you might also like to learn about the nearby Faust House, where the Devil is said to have paid a visit.

Rubbing statues in Prague.
Rubbing some of the statues along the Charles bridge.

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