Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměsti) is the heart of Nove Město (New Town), and is a vibrant and interesting place to take a stroll. Its upper end is capped by the large edifice of the Czech National Museum and a large statue of St. Wenceslas, the latter a popular meeting spot.
Czech National Museum
Pockmarked columns on the National Museum
The columns of the National Museum bear numerous light-colored patches, “souveniers” from the 1968 Prague Spring uprising against Soviet rule, which the Soviets brutally put down, leaving bullet holes behind. The Czech masons tasked with repairing these holes intentionally mismatched the colors so the evidence remains now, 41 years later
Former Czechoslovak parliament building
A to-my-eye ugly brown building sits next to the National Museum. When part of the Soviet bloc, the Czechoslovak parliament convened here. Ironically, after Czech independence in 1993, the building was home to Radio Free Europe for years, until they moved to a more secure location.
Along the wide street are lovely mostly early-1900s buildings, with landscaping in the median. Sausage stands dot the sidewalk, and the lower end (pedestrians-only) often has events in it. One one walk there was what appeared to be a talent show for teenagers going on.
Art Nouveau architecture abounds here, with wonderful details visible on at least one building on every block, often more. The must-visit Mucha Museum is also on a side street in this area.
The Art Nouveau Grand Hotel Europa
In the Lucerne Gallery hangs an interesting sculpture by David Cerný, a controversial Czech artist:
Riding a dead horse
At first blush it appears to just be a silly sculpture of someone riding a dead horse upside-down, but this image is full of symbolism for the Czechs. St. Wenceslas (the “Good King” of the Christian hymn), murdered in the 10th century by his half-brother, Boleslav the Cruel, is said to be sleeping with his army under the Blahnik Mountain, and in the Czech’s time of greatest need, he will come forth and vanquish their foes. Rick Steves’ Prague book notes that many Czechs darkly note that he did not materialize during any of the 5 invasions and occupations of the country by foreign armies, so worse times must still be ahead. So Wenceslas here, sitting on a dead horse, is an image that stirs up emotions in many folks (imagine a large sculpture in the US of George Washington sitting on a dead horse, or the like). The figure of Wenceslas also bears some resemblance to Vaclav (which in fact is Czech for Wenceslas) Klaus, the current Czech president.
Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare!
Restaurants here are mostly touristy and middling, although I enjoyed a tasty enough typical Czech meal at Restaurace u Praviaznice (address: Pravaznicka 3):
Restaurace u Praviaznice interior
Czech food takes some getting used to (and I never got used to it). It’s very heavy, and vegetables are practically non-existent. My Czech colleague Ondrej likes to say “We love our vegetables – we just prefer to eat them after the pig has” 🙂 The dish above is pretty typical – meat, dumplings (two types here), and gravy.
My manager, Jaromir, and co-worker Bob
At the restaurant above (whose name I don’t have, sorry), I had a very tasty meal when I went with my Czech colleagues Jaromir & Bob, and a forgettable one when I went with my wife, an experience unfortunately all too typical here. With Jaromir & Bob we had delicious sour rye bread and flavors were bright, when I went with Sarah, no bread was offered, and everything was a bit dull.
Concave tiles at the Metro station
Verrrrry long escalator
There are two Metro stations in Wenceslas Square, the confusingly-similarly-named Muztek and Muzeum. The former has a very long escalator indeed, and in fact one of Prague Metro’s stations (not one I visited) has the longest escalator in Europe at around 100 meters.
Wenceslas statue – I’ll see you “under the tail”!
- Part 1: Vysehrad
- Part 2: Vysehradsky hrbitov (Vysehrad cemetery)
- Part 3: Karluv Most (Charles Bridge)
- Part 4: Vaclavske namesti (Wenceslas Square) <– You are here
- Part 5: Letecke Muzeum Kbely (Czech Air Force Museum)
- Part 6: Stare Mesto (Old Town)
- Part 7: Staromestske namesti (Old Town Square)
- Part 8: Prazsky orloj (Astronomical Clock)
- Part 9: Josefov (Jewish Quarter)
- Part 10: Vltava River
- Part 11: St. Nicholas Cathedral (Chram sv. Mikulase)
- Part 12: Wallenstein Palace (Valdstejnsky palac)
- Part 13: Kampa Island
- Part 14: Mala Strana street art
- Part 15: Petrin Hill
- Part 16: Mala Strana
- Part 17: Mala Strana house signs
- Part 18: Strahovský klášter (Strahov Monastery)
- Part 19: Schwarzenberský palác (Schwarzenberg Palace)
- Part 20: Toy Musuem
- Part 21: St. Vitus Cathedral gargoyles
- Part 22: St. Vitus Cathedral (exterior)
- Part 23: St. Vitus Cathedral (interior)
- Part 24: Prazky Hrad (Prague Castle), I
- Part 25: Prazky Hrad (Prague Castle), II