Source AP ©

Charles Bridge in Prague to face reconstruction

The Czech capital to start lengthy renovation work next week on the 650-year-old Charles Bridge.

The general renovation of the stone bridge, which is adorned with Baroque statues, will begin on Monday, Bem said.

During the first stage, which will last until June 11, 2010 and cost 222 million koruna (8.07 million EUR; US$10.86 million), workers will focus on the bridge's structure below the surface, Bem said.

The second stage, expected to be completed by 2020, will renovate the surface. Its cost is not yet known.

"Both the stages are necessary" for the bridge's protection and maintenance, Bem said.

Authorities decided that the bridge, which is a major tourist attraction, will remain open to the public though it is a "more complicated" option, Bem said.

Archaeological research of the bridge, including the towers at each end, will take place during the renovation, which has been planned for several years, Bem said.

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