Advent and pre-Christmas time in Prague bring with it another rediscovered tradition. From December 1st to December 23th, between 16:00 and 17:00, a lamplighter passes through the Charles Bridge.
He will begin to lit the historical gaslighting with a burning wick on a long rod nearby the Old Town Bridge Tower. Then, he will continue in the Lesser Town direction and return back.
Dressed in medieval clothes, the lamplighter explains how to light the lamp to tourists who want to help him!
Nowadays, the gas lights operate automatically, Advent is the only time in the year when the gas lamps are lit up by a lamplighter.
Street lighting in Prague dates back to 1847, which is the year when the first gas lamps were lit in this city. By 1940, nearly 9,000 gas lamps cast their bluish glow on the city. Gaslighting was used in Prague till 1985 when the eight branched cast-iron lamps on Hradčanské square and in Loretánská street were converted for electric light.
Fifteen years ago, Prague has begun to return to the gaslighting in interesting historical parts of the city. There are gas lamps all along the King’s “Royal Way”: from the Powder Tower to the Old Town Square and Karlova Street. The second part leads along Rytířská Street to Uhelný Trh.
The route continues across the Charles Bridge to Mostecká Street, then to Malostranské Square and up Nerudova Street to Hradčanské Square, and then to Loretánské Square.
In 2010, gas lamps were placed on Charles Bridge, which is the only gas-lit bridge in the world.
Nowadays, you can admire romantic gaslighting on the whole Royal Route, from Powder Gate to Hradčanské square.
Prague has the 8th largest number of gas lights in the world. Berlin is first, with almost 30,000 lamps, then Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Boston, London, Baden-Baden.