VIDEO OF THE WEEK: See re-enactment of egg-citing medieval legend on Charles Bridge

In the 14th century, Prague scorned the residents of Velvary for sending hardboiled eggs for the construction of the famed bridge.

Ioana Caloianu

Written by Ioana Caloianu Published on 05.04.2023 13:00:00 (updated on 05.04.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

While tightly packed crowds are a common sight on the narrow streets leading to Prague’s Charles Bridge, a horse-drawn carriage with hundreds of boiled eggs in baskets, under the watch of a hunting dog, is less so. Thankfully, a group of town criers in medieval garb precedes the carriage, announcing its importance to onlookers, while medieval musicians cheer the crowd with their tunes. The procession, which snaked through the crowds on Charles Bridge last Sunday, reenacted an important episode in the history of Prague, where the (boiled) eggs took center stage.

Overegging a historical moment

One of the most recognizable sights of Prague, Charles Bridge was also a feat of engineering at the time of its construction, which started in 1357 at the order of Emperor Charles IV. One of the legends surrounding the structure is that eggs were added to the mortar to ensure the durability of the construction.

At the behest of Charles IV, municipalities around Prague collected eggs and sent them to the capital to help with the construction of the bridge. The residents of Velvary sent the eggs hardboiled, to ensure that the fragile cargo doesn’t break on the way to Prague, thus earning a place in history for the shame and ridicule they had to endure from Prague residents.

A recent carried out in the laboratory of the Institute of Biochemistry and Microbiology at the University of Chemical Technology showed that the legend about eggs being added to the Charles Bridge mortar was based on reality, Týden writes.

Štepánka Kučková from the University of Chemistry and Technology said that the results of the analysis showed that egg proteins were detected in the original mortar. The practice was not uncommon in the Middle Ages, when substances like milk or curd, ox blood, bile, or even beer and wine were used to either harden or soften the mortar used in constructions.

Velvary gets the medieval egg off its face

In current years, Velvary representatives, including Mayor Radim Wolák, have been reenacting the journey to Prague to deliver their hardboiled eggs to their counterparts, with the main scene of the egg handover taking place on Charles Bridge.

Velvary mayor Radim Wolák on Charles Bridge. Photo via Facebook/Praha 1.
Velvary mayor Radim Wolák on Charles Bridge. Photo via Facebook/Praha 1.

This video shows the adventures that Velvary representatives went through on their way to Prague a couple of years ago.

This year, the procession arrived in Prague on Sunday, when Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, Mayor of Prague 1 Terezie Radoměřská, and director of the Charles Bridge Museum Zdeněk Bergman welcomed the egg bearers, which brought 450 eggs with them, according to iDnes. Unlike six centuries ago, the Velvary delegation received a friendly welcome this year, complete with cups of eggnog.

The retelling of the medieval legend in a contemporary key also brings a bit of poetic justice. According to the Wolák, after being “ridiculed for bringing in boiled eggs, “ the Velvary residents are “making it a worldview because we think that the ability to be able to interpret various regulations from above in our way and better is always needed, especially at the present time."

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