It would be difficult to find in the Czech history another ruler who paid such an extraordinary attention to his country as Charles IV. To pay tribute to his merit Czech Mint prepared unique series The Period of Charles IV which highlights three monuments connected with the period of prosperity of our country – Charles Bridge, Karlštejn Castle and St. Vitus’ Cathedral. Bohemian and German King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV was born on 14 May 1316 in Prague as the oldest son of John of Luxembourg and Elizabeth of the House of Přemyslids. At birth he was named Wenceslas – a name related to the Přemyslid family. He spent his childhood and was brought up in France, where he received excellent education.
After his return to Bohemia, Charles IV saw nothing but a run-down kingdom. And he decided to restore glamour and glory of his homeland. He issued many significant deeds, founded numerous institutions and decided about the construction of outstanding buildings that reflect until the present day the greatness of the ruler’s mind. He established Pražské vysoké učení (Prague University), turning Prague into a European centre of education. He founded the New Town of Prague whose centre today is the Charles Square. During his reign, the Prague Castle was reconstructed, and works continued on the construction of St. Vitus’, Wenceslas’ and Adalbert’s Cathedral and the chapel of St. Wenceslas. Charles Bridge is another of his remarkable deeds and one of noted symbols of Prague known worldwide.
Charles Bridge spans the Vltava River and links the Old Town with the Lesser Quarter. It is over 500 meters long and it is supported by 16 piers. Two Lesser Quarter Bridge Towers – the taller and the lower one – were built at the western end of the bridge; the Old Town Bridge Tower closes the bridge at the other end. The bridge is a unique outdoor art gallery as it is decorated by 30 primarily Baroque statues and sculptural groups. The oldest of them is the statue of John of Nepomuk from 1683; which is believed to protect Prague against floods. In 1393, on the order of Wenceslas IV, John of Nepomuk was tortured and his body was then thrown from the bridge to the Vltava River. At the very spot there is the well-known metal cross on the stone railing.
In the place where the bridge is situated, there used to be logs tied together allowing to cross the river. In the 10th century a wooden bridge is already documented. This bridge was however often damaged by floods. Therefore around 1170 Vladislav II had a stone one built which was named Judith Bridge. But even this bridge collapsed in the flood of 1342 and only a Roman relief from this structure was preserved inside the lower Lesser Quarter Bridge Tower. The foundation stone of the Charles Bridge was laid in 1357 by Charles IV who summoned architect Peter Parler to build it. The latter also left his unforgettable imprint in St. Vitus’ Cathedral, as well as in the Old Town Bridge Tower. The bridge, originally known as Stone or Prague Bridge, was built from sandstone blocks and was completed in 1402. It was the only bridge in Prague spanning the Vltava until 1845. It was named after Charles IV no sooner than in 1870.
Gold ducat Charles Bridge from the series The Period of Charles IV shows the unmistakable handwriting of renowned Czech medallist M.A. Josef Oplištil. The latter depicted on the obverse side Charles Bridge in all its glory beginning with the Old Town Bridge Tower up to the two Bridge Towers in the Lesser Quarter. The reverse is dominated by the effigy of the ruler surrounded by notable buildings and structures which he initiated during his reign. The text on the reverse includes name of the series and also years of the king’s birth and death. The gold ducat is minted in a limited edition of 1,000 pieces.
Gold has been since time immemorial recognized as legal tender and means of payment and its current price is directly proportional to its rarity. In the 20th century the development of gold prices was relatively dramatic, however now they have been for a short time very favourable and invite to buy. Gold ducat Charles Bridge from Czech Mint’s special series The Period of Charles IV is not only an interesting investment, but it will also enhance the artistic value of your entire collection.