Czech and German nationalists used to get all sentimental about this river, and some still do, for instance the obnoxious Sudeten-German refugees in Bavaria, now in their third or fourth generation of exile and still suffering volubly while driving to refugee conventions in their fat BMWs. (I am distantly related to some of these folks, but I try not to let on.)
Nonetheless, this is still a nice river to walk or cycle along, or look at from the train window on the way to Dresden, Germany.
On our bicycle tour of Prague we did not ride across Charles Bridge, for the simple reason that it is usually too full of people. But at various times I took photos of Charles Bridge from other angles, like this one (just above) from the right bank of the Vltava (aka Moldau) River, with the Smetana Museum on the right and Prague Castle with St. Vitus Cathedral up on the hill on the left.
Construction of Charles Bridge was begun in 1357 on orders of Charles IV (= the 4th), who by then was not only King of Bohemia but also Holy Roman Emperor, a post he held from 1355 until his death in 1378 at age 62.
Four centuries later, Voltaire famously pointed out that the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire. It was more of a loose confederation of squabbling mini-states, mainly German speaking, though Charles IV himself was educated in France and spoke five languages: Latin, Czech, German, French and Italian. He was born and died in Prague, and during his reign Prague was in effect the capital of the Holy Roman Empire.
There has been at least one opera about Charles IV, namely Karlštejn by the Czech composer Vítězslav Novák, from the year 1916. (I’ve never seen it, I’m afraid, and don’t know if it has been performed recently.)
An earlier Holy Roman Emperor, Charles I (Charlemagne) was an important character in the opera Fierrabras, by Franz Schubert. A later Emperor, Charles V, appears in two operas by Giuseppe Verdi, Ernani and Don Carlo, as well as in a seldom performed opera Karl V by Ernst Krenek.
I took this photo (above) on a chilly evening after pedestrian traffic had thinned out considerably, but it was still quite full, as you can see.
The word střelecký means shooting and ostrov means island, so Střelecký ostrov is the shooting island, so called because there was once a shooting range here for aristocrats and other wealthy people.
Now the island is quite peaceful and is easily reachable via the Legion Bridge (Legií most or most Legií). It seems to be popular with young couples who want to make out on the park benches.
My photos in this post are from 2011. I revised the text in 2021.
See more posts on Prague, Czechia (Czech Republic).
7 thoughts on “The Vltava (Moldau) River in Prague”
Beautiful photos. I found Charles Bridge way too crowded when I visited a few years back, but I assumed I picked the wrong time. I did enjoy looking at the bridge and walking by banks of River Vltava.
One blogger (I forget who) posted a photo of Charles Bridge with no one on it but himself. But he explained that he got up at 6 a.m. to do this.
This place is quite charming..and it´s crowded! I found myself dreaming of walking through Chrales bridge though…
I had the idea that I wanted to take photos of all the statues on Charles Bridge and look up the stories behind them. But I gave up on that idea because there were so many people standing in front of the statues.
This bridge seems to be quiet popular & Don, I agree one tends to loose interest in photography with too many people around. Especially, in the blogger community we have a tendency of photographing the place in purity.
I have been to Prague a couple times….one beautiful city. I stayed in a hotel about 30 seconds walk from the Charles Bridge. I crossed the bridge a dozen or more times and took pictures of many of the statues. One of them was St John of Napomuk who is the most popular, 5 star wreath, and a pretty interesting story about him. The is a statue of him and a plaque commemorating his death by drowning at the bridge by order to the king. Anyway, during the day the crowds are numbing to the beauty and essence of this bridge but being so close I was able to get out early, by happenstance not design, and early around being 7:30 or 8:00 when it was not empty but it was quite pleasant. The Asian community it seems is taken with the idea of having wedding photos taken on the bridge at the base of some of the statues. I saw probably 12 couples having professional photos taken.
Yes, getting there early in the morning seems to be a good idea.