The construction of bridges has always been one of the great challenges of civil engineering, especially when they cross waterways. And making them stand the test of time is an even greater challenge.
In the city of Prague is the Karlův Most or Charles Bridge, which owes its name to the monarch who ordered its construction in 1357: Emperor Charles IV of the Holy Roman Empire, who reigned in Bohemia as Charles I. The city had been left without a bridge after the destruction of the Judith Bridge (from the 12th century) in 1342 due to flooding.
The Vltava River, which divides the city in two, is a mighty watercourse. We can get an idea of its strength in the name of the city itself, which has its origin in the word Prahy (Rapids), which referred to the rapids of that river. Therefore, a long, solid bridge that could resist the force of the water was needed. The Charles Bridge was the solution, with just over 500 meters long by almost 10 meters wide, supported by 16 arches and whose pillars are equipped with 9 angular breakwaters to divide the flow of the waters, Despite this, in its first decades of existence it suffered collapses due to new floods.
I recently found this interesting video on YouTube that shows how that bridge was built, using the formwork system to be able to install the pillars on the bottom of the river. It is a system that, duly updated, is still used to build bridges today. It is fascinating to see how these bridges were made at that time, with much more precarious means than today. The video lasts just 3 minutes, but you have to think that all the work we see in it It took almost half a century, since the Charles Bridge was completed in 1402:
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