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Wednesday, 28 August, 2002, 16:43 GMT 17:43 UK
Prague's historic bridge reopens
Tourist on the Charles Bridge
The Charles Bridge is a magnet for millions of tourists
The famous Charles Bridge in the Czech capital, Prague, has reopened to the public, as the city slowly returns to normal after the devastating floods.

The Charles Bridge
Only the roof of a restaurant next to the bridge was visible during the floods
The 14th statue-lined bridge on the Vltava River - a magnet for millions of tourists - was closed on 13 August, but was largely unharmed by the deluge.

On Wednesday morning, hundreds walked on the bridge, connecting Prague's two most visited areas of Old Town and Lesser Town.

"A taxi driver told me they would open it again this morning, so I'm here," said British tourist Andrea Wibberley.

Clean-up works are still going on in many parts of Prague and the danger of collapsing buildings remains, but the bridge's opening is seen by many as a sign that the two-week nightmare may be over.

Devastation

The Charles Bridge dates back to 1357, and is a "must" for about three million tourists who visit Prague every year.

A street in Prague, covered in mud as floodwaters recede
The floodwaters left a thick coating of mud
City authorities decided to keep it closed to protect the privacy of residents on the nearby Kampa Island, which was badly damaged by the floods.

Many tourists were still looking more at the repair works, than at the bridge's medieval statures.

"We saw very little of the things we wanted - so many things were closed," an Italian tourist told the Reuters news agency.

"But this makes up for that, at least a little."

Tourist officials said that the bridge's reopening was vital to limit the loss caused by the floods, as travel operators predict that the number of tourists will drop significantly.

The record floods forced thousands of Prague residents to flee their homes, causing billions of dollars in damage to the city.


European havoc

Germany ravaged

Prague drama

Freak phenomenon?

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See also:

16 Aug 02 | Europe
14 Aug 02 | Europe
16 Aug 02 | Europe
14 Aug 02 | Europe
13 Aug 02 | Business
13 Aug 02 | Entertainment
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