Prague Part I – Charles Bridge & River Vltava

In Sketchbook, Travel by Chris FoleyLeave a Comment

Episode 9: Europe 2016 - Prague Part I
This is the 9th post in a series chronicling my photography project through Spain, France, Poland, & Czech Republic. Prague. Oh man.. What can I possibly say about Prague? This first post will focus on the Charles Bridge and the River Vltava. Click on this TAG to view all of the articles in this series. If you want to skip all the text, you can scroll all the way down to a gallery of images.

Prague. Oh man..

What can I possibly say about Prague. This was my second time in this incredible city. Pausha and I visited Prague in 2011 on a road trip from our place in France to visit her family in Poland and we stopped for a day and night. I was in my “I’m tired of photography” phase and largely left my camera in the car as we went out exploring and I only caught a few iPhone photos which were nothing more than snapshots.

This time around, I found myself with 9 days in the city and I came home with 1250 keeper images. I’m going to share only a handful of my favorites here, and I’ll break this into a series of 4 articles as there’s a lot to talk about. I want to keep each of the articles within a size that will best fit people’s attention spans.

Nine days in a town is a wonderful luxury and I’m more accustomed to spending a few days in any given location before moving onto the next. As a photographer there are some very real benefits to spending more than the average amount of days getting a feel for a location. It takes a while to learn where the good light hits and what times of day are best to be in any particular place. I took a lot of photos while in Prague, and I mean a lot of photos. Those taken over the first few days were little more than just snapshots. Why? Timing. Light. Location. It took a few days to get settled in, drink some beer, eat some excellent food, and figure out what we wanted to hit and plan out a rough shot list over the next week.

This first post will focus on the Charles Bridge and the River Vltava. The Charles Bridge is of course one of the focal attractions of the city and it’s the first thing people think about, sort of like the Eiffel Tower is for Paris. Sure, the Eiffel Tower is only one of a million attractions in Paris but it’s iconic. The Charles Bridge is like that.

I’m fascinated by rivers. Rivers are sustainers of life, fertility, and agriculture and what’s more they are the Kickstarter of cultures. Rivers made it possible for people to explore and discover other people, trade goods and culture with each other, thus playing a major role in the evolution of our species on countless levels. It’s the beginnings of things that I look to, and that likely explains why I’m also a fan of etymology.

I make it a point to visit the major river system of any city I visit.

I grew up in a town with a major river that led directly to the Atlantic Ocean. In Paris we have the Seine, London has the Thames. I was thrilled to visit the River Wisła in Warsaw on my first visit to Poland in 2001 largely because I was reading James Michener’s Poland at the time, which tells of a rich history of the river and its importance in the development of the Polish nation. In Vienna I visited the Danube. Etc, etc.

Like Paris, so much of Prague was built up around the river. The river is crossed by 18 bridges within the city limits and none of these bridges is as well known or as densely touristed than Karluv Most, AKA the Charles Bridge.
If you’re interested you can read up on the history of the Charles Bridge here on Wikipedia.

Tourists Tourists Tourists

On some days the tourists were so thick on the bridge that we were weary and furious before we could get to the other end. On other days the tourists were the attraction and those days were quite fun. We got up at 4am one morning to get to the bridge before sunrise and take some shots of it with few or no people on it. We found that some folks were there, still drunk from the night before, or out with the same thoughts as we had.

What follows are some photos taken over the course of these nine days, on different days and in different types of light. My intention is to show a variety of vibes and tones. While some of the images may be redundant, I hope to convey some of the magic of the Charles Bridge and the River Vltava, and the activity that occurs around the bridges.

The Charles Bridge is without doubt the beating heart of the city, though some may argue that the heart is the Old Town Square. To me it feels like the bridge. There is so much on the bridge or immediately off the bridge that I feel one could almost avoid the old Town Square entirely and still "get" Prague.

Thanks for reading!


Prague Charles Bridge & River Vltava - Image Gallery

Click on any image to open the gallery up into a Lightbox.


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