Charles Bridge Museum: egg yolk and the bridge
Charles Bridge Museum, next to Charles Bridge, tells the story of the second oldest stone bridge in the Czech Republic (the oldest is the Pisek Bridge in South Bohemia). The museum is located in the original Crusader Hospital of the Church of the Holy Spirit. The exhibition is not only about Charles Bridge but also about the coronation of Czech kings and the coronation route that led across the bridge on the way to St Vitus Cathedral where the kings were crowned. The scale model of Charles Bridge is a mirror image of the real bridge. The exhibition also tells how the bridge was built and what materials and tools were needed to build the bridge.
Charles Bridge Museum and Judith Bridge
Charles Bridge is nowadays one of the many bridges across the Vltava River, but that was not always the case. Until the fourteenth century there was only one bridge, the Judith Bridge, connecting the old city (Stare Mesto) and the castle. This bridge was of great importance because all traffic and trade ran through this route. When the Judith Bridge collapsed during the floods in the fourteenth century, the City of Prague built a new bridge on the same site but much wider than the old bridge. Initially, the name was Stone Bridge (Kamenny most), but in 1870 it changes to Charles Bridge. Charles Bridge Museum shows the colourful history of this famous bridge.
The Kink in the Bridge
Before going to the museum, walk across Charles Bridge. Check out the sixteen arches with ice protectors. These are oak logs floating by the bridge to ensure that when the river freezes over in winter the ice does not damage the arches. Have a good look at the statues on the bridge and climb the tower on the bridgehead at the Stare Mesto side for a panoramic view of the bridge. From here you can clearly see the kink in Charles Bridge. This is often attributed to a miscalculation of the builders but more likely done on purpose to catch the setting sun on summer solstice when it sets right behind the spires of St Vitus Cathedral. When Judith Bridge collapsed, traffic had to go on. That is why a wooden temporary bridge was built parallel to the collapsed bridge. The kink was necessary to connect the bridge to the bridgehead on the Mala Strana side. When you had a good look at the real bridge, go to the museum. You will see that the scale model is an exact replica of Charles Bridge.
Charles Bridge Museum: how to build a bridge with arches
The permanent exhibition shows how floods wiped out the Judith Bridge. Walk down the stairs to see the original 12th-century stonework of Judith Bridge. Learn about the masonry and carpentry techniques that were used to build Charles Bridge.
The scale model of the bridge is the showpiece of the museum and includes all three hundred and fifty construction workers in working clothes. It took eighteen months to make this model. On the wall, a series of black and white photos showing how the floods of 1890 destroyed three arches and how the bridge almost collapsed. There is much more to see in the museum. You can try out how to build a stone bridge with arches and watch a few historical films about the bridge.
Charles Bridge Museum: does egg yolk hold the bridge together?
Is it true or is it not true that Charles IV ordered the addition of egg yolk to the mortar for more strength so that it would adhere better to the bricks and thus the bridge would be stronger?
The museum presents the results of recent scientific research, which aimed to finally uncover the truth about the eggs. Scientists thoroughly scanned the fourteenth-century lime mortar and discovered that it contains egg proteins. More about Charles Bridge and the egg theory
Above the entrance to the museum it says 135797531, which are not random numbers. It is the date and time when Emperor Charles IV laid the foundation stone of Charles Bridge: July 9, 1357 at 5.31 am. It is also a palindrome, from left to right it says exactly the same as from right to left. Emperor Charles IV, together with his court astrologers, determined that this was the most propitious time to start construction. Initially, the bridge was called Stone Bridge (Kamenny most), it was only in 1870 that the bridge got its current name: Charles Bridge.
Location and address
The museum is housed in the Baroque building of the Military Order of the Crusaders of the Red Star, founded by Saint Agnes of Bohemia in 1252. The Crusaders of the Red Star have been the guardians of the bridge since time immemorial and to whom tolls were paid.
Charles Bridge Museum, Muzeum Karlova mostu
Krizovnicke namesti 3
Prague, Stare Mesto
May to September, Monday to Sunday from 10am to 29pm
October to April, Monday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm
Charles Bridge and its Statues