The Legend of the Charles Bridge

The Charles Bridge is one of the most famous Prague landmarks to visit on a trip to Prague, and now that we have lived here for a few weeks I am sure you have crossed the bridge at least once. However, not everyone knows the legend of the Charles Bridge.

After King Wenceslas had John of Nepomuk tortured and thrown over the Charles Bridge for a suspected affair with the Queen, the river flooded and destroyed one of the arches of the bridge. Although the citizens of Prague tried to repair it, none of the repairs could survive the night and were destroyed by the river again and again. Builders became fed up with this, until one brave man decided to stay overnight to find out what was happening to their hard work. That night, the man was greeted by the devil, who declared that the bridge would never be repaired unless the man was willing to make a deal. He told the man that he would not interfere with the bridge repairs if the man would offer the soul of the first person to cross the bridge to the devil.

The man agreed to this deal, but as the bridge was being repaired he began to regret the deal he made. He decided to try and fool the devil, but when the devil heard of his plan, he became very angry. Using a disguise, the devil found the man’s pregnant wife and told her that there was an emergency and she needed to go to the bridge immediately to meet her husband. The man was able to stop his wife before she crossed the bridge, but he understood that trying to trick the devil was a mistake; he would have to sacrifice himself in order to save his wife and child. However, it was too late, and later that evening both the wife and the baby died during childbirth. The man died of grief shortly after. It was said that the child’s soul haunted the Charles Bridge for many years and that the child could be heard coughing or sneezing on cold days or rainy. One day, when a passing citizen heard the child sneeze, he instinctively responded, “God bless you!” and these kind words freed the child’s soul.

 

Emma Will

Union College