The Charles Bridge (Czech: Karlův most listen (help·info)) is a famous historic bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century. As the only means of crossing the river Vltava (Moldau) until 1841, the Charles Bridge was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city's Old Town and adjacent areas. This «solid-land» connection made Prague important as a trade route between Eastern and Western Europe. The bridge was originally called the Stone Bridge (Kamenný most) or the Prague Bridge (Pražský most) but has been the «Charles Bridge» since 1870.
The bridge is 516 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards. It is protected by three bridge towers, two of them on the Lesser Quarter side and the third one on the Old Town side. The Old Town bridge tower is often considered to be one of the most astonishing civil gothic-style buildings in the world. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, originally erected around 1700 but now all replaced by replicas.
During the night the Charles Bridge is a quiet place. But during the day it changes its face into a very busy place, with painters, owners of kiosks and other traders alongside numerous tourists crossing the bridge.