St. John of Nepomuk, Charles Bridge, Prague

St. John of Nepomuk, Charles Bridge, Prague

St. John’s main claim to fame lies in his death on Charles Bridge. According to legend, he was the confessor to the wife of King Wenceslas IV. In 1393, when he refused to reveal Queen Johanna’s secrets, the King bundled him up in a suit of armor and tossed him over the parapets (see also: St. Gellért in Budapest).

For his valiant deeds, St. John became the patron saint of Czechs and an ubiquitous presence all over town. Don’t miss his over-the-top tomb in St. Vitus Cathedral (you can’t miss it – it contains 2 tons of silver).

Legend suggests that if you rub the plaque beneath the statue itself, you will return to Prague. You’ll see where the bronze has been rubbed shiny by millions of fingers.

Even better, romantics have it that the stars in his halo, which symbolize the five letters of the Latin tacet (“silent”), followed him down the river. The stars also appear on a bronze cross a little further down towards the Old Town, marking his point of departure from the bridge. Apparently, if you place your hand so that each finger touches one star, one wish will be granted.

Sculptor: Original clay design by Matthias Rauchmüller, based upon a wood model by Jan Brokoff; cast in bronze by Volfgang Jeroným Heroldt in Nuremberg (1683)