At the end of the 18th century Prague still had four independent districts – the Old Town, the New Town, the Lesser Town and Hradčany. The Vltava River played an important role in their lives – ships sailed on it and its stream was the energy for mills and river forges. The statue of the knight Bruncvík on the Lesser Town pillar of Charles Bridge is a bollard that determined that this part of the Vltava belongs to the citizens of the Old Town.
But who was Bruncvík, about whom every Czech child knows that his faithful companion was a lion? That’s what the legend tells us…
The Czech prince Bruncvík was a just and noble-minded ruler. In the third year of his reign, he decided to go on a journey – he left the rule of the country to his wife’s father, had thirty horses saddled, and set off with his most loyal knights for adventure.
A storm caught them while they were sailing on the sea. The knights and Bruncvík were already fearing for their lives when they saw a mountain with a yellow glow and a pungent smell coming from it. It was the Amber Mountain, which had the power to draw everything within a 50-mile radius to itself and never let it go back.
When the sea calmed down, they tried to leave the mountain three times, but they were always returned to its shores. When they ran out of supplies, they ate horses. Then people began to die, leaving only Bruncvík and the old knight Balád on the island. And he advised him. He knew that once a year, the giant bird Noh would come to the mountain. He sewed Bruncvík into horse skin and they waited. The bird has appeared, took the supposed horse in its claws, and flew with it for three days and three nights. In the nest, the Noh’s chicks pounced on this catch. Bruncvík jumped out of the horse skin, killed all the young ones with his sword, and escaped.
He ran to a large rock where a lion was fighting a dragon. Bruncvík helped the lion to defeat the dragon – and he thus gained a loyal friend. After seven long years and many more adventures, Bruncvík and the lion returned home and he lived with his wife for another forty years. After his death, the faithful lion suffered and also died.
Before his death, the wise prince had his magic sword walled up into the Charles Bridge. It has been hidden there for centuries – just as the Knights in Mount Blaník are ready to go to help the Czech land under the leadership of St. Wenceslas if the land is in need. If that should happen, this legend says, when the knights ride over Charles Bridge, Wenceslas’ horse will stumble and Bruncvík’s sword will leap out of the bridge for help.
(Using the text of the Charles Bridge Museum.)