“Emperor Charles IV is said to have knocked on the cornerstone of this jewel we all hold dear at this memorable day, this jewel that has survived all the disasters that have gone through Prague and will undoubtedly survive even in the future,“ said Prague’s city mayor Pavel Bém at the beginning of the press conference regarding the bridge’s celebrations.
The capital is holding spectacular celebrations for the occasion of 650th anniversary of the foundation of Charles Bridge. These celebrations will begin on 8th July 2 p.m. in the Old Town Square, there will be jousting tournaments and historical dancing. During the tournaments people will see up to one hundred knights in full armour, or a battle of heavily armoured warriors, led until a complete defeat of one of the groups. There will be demonstrations of medieval professions and crafts, but also historical music and daily life as it may have looked like on a medieval marketplace.
The Sabbath on Monday Early Hours
However, the main programme will begin at midnight from 8th to Monday 9th July. Then lights will be ignited on Charles Bridge and Křižovnické Square, announcing Žito the Sorcerer’s arrival in his waggon, pulled by cocks and with his company. He will be followed by a headless templar knight, which is, according to a legend, wanders aimlessly through the streets of the Old Town.
This depiction of Prague legends pays homage to the genius loci of Charles Bridge, that has already witnessed countless historical events. Anyone remaining at the celebrations longer will be rewarded by a rich programme, including a night tour through the Bridge Tower with a photography exposition about the Charles Bridge sculpture replacement, all concluded with a blessing of the bridge’s cornerstone and a ceremonial mass in the St. Francis of Assissi Church in the Křižovnické Square.
Bridge’s Foundation – a Magical Game with Numbers
The time of celebrations was not chosen at random. It refers to the date and time, which were chosen by emperor’s astrologists as the most suitable for the bridge’s foundation. The date and time can be read forward and backward to give the same number every time – anno domini 1357, 9th day of the 7th month, 5 hours and 31 minutes. The main archivist of Prague, Václav Ledvinka, has stated that historians have examined this date in various aspects, they have inquired for a long time, whether or not would this number and date work even according to our current ways of counting time.
“Václav Vladivoj Tomek has deduced this number from annals throughout the 14th, 15th and 16th century and it seems to be correct. The date and time were also examined by historian and astronomer Zdeněk Horský, who has also confirmed it is correct. Knowing, that medieval man’s time perception was determined mainly by the movement of the Sun (and Moon) in the sky, we take into account, that the time reading was outside daylight saving time. Then the calculations closely approached the given date and time,“ specifies Ledvinka
According to him, the date was not chosen randomly, because on that day at the time was a conjunction of the Sun and Saturn. Symbolically this means a takeover of the reign by the good forces (Sun) from the evil and war-hungry Saturn. Furthermore, in the chosen hour all the planets, including the Moon and the Sun, were above Prague’s horizon. In the ascendent was the Lion – a constellation of kings, often related to Prague.
Collectors Were Remembered Too
Czech National Bank has decided to issue commemorative coin medals in two variations. As the bank’s representative has stated, the importance of the celebrated monument is shown even in the fact, that while the bank usually receives about 30 designs from artists, this time they received 57 of them.
A small commemorative sheet with a postage stamp in the value of 45 Czech crowns was issued as well. “It’s the most expensive stamp in the Czech Republic,“ said its author Dr Absolon, who has fitted 8 out of the total 16 arches of the bridge onto the sheet. Both the sheets and coin medals were given out on 20th June