Vltava River in Prague, Czech Republic

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Vltava River in Prague, Czech Republic from Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge is surely one of the world’s most famous bridges. Built in 1357 and the only means of crossing the thundering Vltava River until 1841, both Charles Bridge and the Vltava River have played a strategic and economic role throughout the city’s history. Prague’s location on the Vltava River has long been important for trade and shipping between eastern and western Europe, and that economical power, along with Prague’s famous bridge that connects its timeless old town with the majestic Prague Castle, have all helped to bounce Prague to international acclaim. Though always beautiful, there are two moments where Prague becomes nearly divine in beauty. The first is Prague covered in soft, brilliant snow, the pure white of the fallen snowflakes contrasting beautifully on the dark, ancient stones that make up the Gothic architecture of Charles Bridge, the Castle and most of the Old Town. Alone under the evening blizzard with snow underfoot, the smells of chimney smoke, hot wine and roasted chestnuts intermingle in the air, as the air itself rings with the jubilant sounds of the famed Christmas market – the perfect picture of Christmas bliss. The second time when Prague becomes almost unbearable with beauty is when bathed in the brilliance of the Golden Hour, both at sunrise and sunset, when the incandescent light glitters off the richly-coloured stones and the ancient architecture to make you feel as if you are part of a fairytale, or a painting. Sunrise is preferable – this way, you will avoid the crowds. Sunset, as seen above, will not disappoint either.


See More Reasons Why Eastern European Cities are so Magical
  1. Early morning sunlight bathing the colourful Wroclaw, Poland
  2. Old world, fin de siecle art of Budapest, Hungary
  3. Medieval cobblestones in Kazimierez Dolny, Poland
  4. Baltic beauty in Gdansk, Poland
  5. Romantic charm in Tallinn, Estonia

 

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Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

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Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic

If you haven’t been to Prague, then you are certainly missing out. Yes it’s true, so many others have decided to make the trip that you will be up to the neck in tourists (even in December, when this photo was taken). But is that a reason to miss out for a chance to see a contender for Most Beautiful European City? (tied with Tallinn, Brugge, and  perhaps Budapest, though Prague is the frontrunner). The Charles Bridge, with construction beginning in 1357 under King Charles IV, was originally called the Stone Bridge or Prague Bridge; the name wasn’t changed until 1870. In fact, the bridge was the only means to cross the Vltava River up until 1841. Clearly, it was–and is–full of people, but traversing the bridge is also a wonderful experience. A way to avoid the crowds would be to be an early riser and get out there to photograph the famous bridge before the other tourists awaken–quite the opposite of this photo taken at high noon. Evening is also a lovely time for a stroll. No matter how or when you cross the Charles Bridge, it will still be beautiful.

Prague, Czech Republic

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Prague, Czech Republic.

An organ-grinder on the Charles Bridge, one of the world’s most famous and most beautiful bridges. Street performers are a common sight in European cities…anything from a puppeteer to an opera singer to a guitar-player to a juggler to a statue, you will see them everywhere. They add character and life as well as entertainment for tourists and locals alike. Sometimes, they even become iconic. Anyone who has visited Prague will surely remember this fellow and his mechanical monkey on Charles Bridge!