Adjoining New Town is Prague’s highly touristy, but also very interesting, Old Town (Staré Město). At the border between the two is the ancient Powder Tower, built in 1475 and long a part of the coronation route of Czech kings, which wound from Vyšehrad, through this tower, past the Town Hall in Old Town Square, across the Charles Bridge, through Mala Strana, and finally up the hill to Prague Castle.
Powder Tower, daytime
Powder Tower, nighttime
The tower is a fine example of Gothic architecture, burnished black with centuries of city grime.
Power Tower detail
Attached to the right side of the tower is the Art Nouveau masterpiece Municipal House (Obecní dům). This building, built between 1905 and 1912, is a stellar example of this architectural style, festooned with swooning ladies, mosiacs, and stained glass.
Municipal House (Obecní dům)
Municipal House (Obecní dům), entry
Municipal House (Obecní dům), mosaic
Municipal House (Obecní dům), detail
Here, as elsewhere in central Prague, Art Nouveau architecture abounds (click any image below for a larger version):
Nearby, the Hotel Pariz continues the Art Nouveau trend:
Hotel Pariz, detail
Hotel Pariz, entry
Although I was not surprised to see a nude on the side of a car, I was not expecting it to be an advertisement for an electrician when I plugged the text into a translator!
Kafka & Golem statue
In a quiet square near the Jewish quarter (Josefov) stands an interesting statue of Franz Kafka riding on the shoudlers of a golem. The image and name of golem is everywhere in central Prague, due to one of the more famous golem myths being set here (see the wiki page for a good description of the general legend, and specifically the story of Prague’s Judah Loew ben Bezalel).
Strolling the maze of old cobbled streets, some closed to traffic, and none congested with cars, was great fun. The area is well-signed, so it’s hard to get too lost, although it’s easy to lose track of exactly what street one is one, as the streets change name every block or so!
I saw a fair number of stickers like the one above, which piqued my curiosity. A little searching turned up nothing in English, but it’s pretty obviously an anti-fascist, anti-racist motto, and has something to do with the German hardcore punk rock scene.
Near the Vltava River stands the Rudolphinium, a large concert hall opened in 1885. Although we did not have occasion to see its interior, on our visit, there was a cool sculpture made of letters and numbers in front of it, which we admired each time we passed it by.
Old Town Metro station
The Old Town Metro station has its own color scheme, like many of the underground stations in Prague. Although perhaps a bit dated, I liked the dimpled metal and the fact that the color changed from stop to stop.
It would be inconceivable to visit Prague and not see Old Town. Although its most famous sights are in Old Town Square, the subject of the next two posts in this series, it is well worth the time to just wander around, as many interesting little squares and architectural beauties lie just off the beaten path.
- Part 1: Vysehrad
- Part 2: Vysehradsky hrbitov (Vysehrad cemetery)
- Part 3: Karluv Most (Charles Bridge)
- Part 4: Vaclavske namesti (Wenceslas Square)
- Part 5: Letecke Muzeum Kbely (Czech Air Force Museum)
- Part 6: Stare Mesto (Old Town) <– You are here
- 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