A group of rowers relax on the Vlatava River.
With the sun in the sky in a light breeze, Saturday was a great day to go paddle boating on the Vlatava River. And I wasn’t the only one who thought so—several boats were already out on the river treading around near the Charles Bridge. With wine bottles, beer and cigarettes, locals and tourists alike enjoyed the leisure activity on the river.
The name, Vlatava, derived from German, meaning “wild and strong water.” The Vlatava River is the main waterway that runs through Prague and was a fundamental role in the city’s foundation. When early settlements established in Prague, it was the people’s source of water for drinking, crop irrigation and transportation. Salt was the most important good that was transported up and down the river in the 16th century and the current was a crucial tool for navigation. Measuring at 435 kilometers, it is the longest river in the Czech Republic and there are 107 bridges over the river, 17 in Prague.
Unfortunately the river has a history of flooding. The city experienced the most destructive flood in 2002 when more than the Vlatava River swelled up to more than four times its normal size. The city shut down and many lost power for days. The total damage cost an estimated 2 billion dollars.
Nine hydropower dams have been built to ensure safe recreation on the water. Today people can enjoy paddle boating along with river cruises to simultaneously enjoy views of both sides of the city.