City looking for stones for Charles Bridge

The landmark structure is in very poor condition and needs repairs

Prague City Hall will develop a plan this year to repair Charles Bridge, and the city is looking for a quarry with stones suitable for repairs. The arch that extends above Kampa is in very poor condition in particular, with visible cracks.

The bridge last underwent an extensive renovation between 2008 and ’10 that caused controversy because of the poor choice of stones used, which did not match the originals and left very visible traces of where repairs were made. The contractor was fined for poor work.

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee criticized that project for being poorly planned.

The bridge is part of the city’s UNESCO's World Heritage Site and is a protected landmark.

Prague Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr (Praha Sobě) said much work on Charles Bridge will be needed, but when it will start, how much it will cost and how long the work will last has not been determined.

The previous administration at City Hall in 2018 said that work start at the end of 2019 or start of 2020 and be stretched out in phases over the course of 20 years starting with the most damaged parts and eventually repairing the entire span.

Scheinherr said suitable new stones would replace the irreversibly damaged parts of the bridge. Stones that can be repaired will be returned to their original places. The exterior of the bridge consists of roughly 66,000 blocks.

All of the city-owned bridges in Prague were examined the Technical Roadways Administration (TSK) after the collapse of a footbridge in Troja in December 2017. Due to the cracks on the Kampa arch, Charles Bridge was found to be in very poor condition, the sixth or second-worst category on a scale of one, meaning excellent, to seven, meaning danger of collapse.

Construction on Charles Bridge started in 1357 on the 9th day of the 7th month at 5:31, making the numerical palindrome 135797531. The time was selected by astrologers, as Emperor Charles IV was a strong believer in superstition. The original architect was a master named Otlín. Petr Parléř, who also worked on Prague Castle, took over when Otlín died.

The bridge replaced the Judith Bridge, built 1158–1172, which had been badly damaged by a flood in 1342.

A story says that Emperor Charles IV called for eggs to be used to help to strengthen the cement. Research on the cement conducted during the last renovation has had mixed results. Some scientists claimed in 2008 that there were traces of egg protein, but in 2010 the same university said these results were a mistake.

It was the only bridge across the Vltava river in Prague until 1841. The statues on the bridge were not part of the original design but were added starting in the 17th century.

The bridge has been damaged several times in floods. A flood in 1432 damaged three pillars. In 1496, the third arch from the Old Town side collapsed during efforts to reinforce a support pillar. Repairs were finished in 1503.

On September 2–5, 1890, another flood damaged it. Logs and debris caused three arches and two pillars to collapse, while others were partly damaged. Two statues fell into the river. One was replaced with a copy, the other with a new statue of a different saint. Repairs lasted for two years and the bridge was reopened on November 19, 1892.

After repairs, all original stones are stored for future use. A warehouse in Prague 8 has some 500 stones from when the railings were repaired.

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