Flooding in Prague

The height of flooding in Prague over the last 300 years © Sybille Yates

Prague is a beautiful city. One of the reasons it is so beautiful is being situated either side of the River Vltava. However, with the beauty of the riverside location comes the inherent danger of flooding. Unfortunately, over the centuries, this is something to which Prague has not been immune.

The picture on the left is of the wall of a building in Mala Strana, just south of Charles Bridge, and shows the height reached by floodwaters on several occasions during the last 300 years. Bearing in mind that I am quite tall, (1.87m or 6’ 1½”), and that where I am standing is well above the normal river level, it does illustrate the immensity and devastating nature of the flooding that engulfed Prague as recently as August 2002.

Apparently, there is an historic Prague expression, “The 100 Year Water”. As you can see, if you do a simple mathematical calculation, there actually was a 112 year gap between the last major flooding of 1890 before the flooding of 2002. And whilst the expression has no scientific evidence to support it, going further back, there were 106 years between the floods of 1784 and those of 1890.

Flood level marker 1890 © Ricky Yates

Flood level marker for 1890 with normal river level in the background © Ricky Yates

The two photographs above show the location elsewhere in Mala Strana, of another marker of the height of the serious flooding in 1890. Here I was able to get a backwater/mill stream of the River Vltava into my picture which I hope will indicate the difference between the normal river height and where the floodwaters rose to 120 years ago.

In the floods of 1890, three arches of Charles Bridge were destroyed as shown in the historic photograph below. Fortunately, the floods of 2002 did not destroy any part of the historic bridge though they did leave it seriously weakened. Over the last two years, major renovation work has been undertaken to it, both above and below the waters of the Vltava, to strengthen it and restore it to its former glory. Hopefully, this work will be completed in the next few months, thus allowing locals and visitors to walk freely across it without having to negotiate their way around scaffolding and fenced off sections.

As for “The Hundred Year Water”, I don’t think I will be around to witness it in the early years of the 22nd century!

The damage caused to Charles Bridge by the floods of 1890. Image source; in public domain therefore assuming fair use.

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