At the heart of Prague’s Old Town district is Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí), bustling, hustling, and very heavily touristy. At nighttime, it is much more mellow and charming, and that was our preferred time to see it of the 4 or 5 times we passed through the square.
Old Town Square at night
Tempted by covered tables, and wanting to rest our feet and have a pivo (half liter of beer), we once foolishly sat, and wound up spending ~800Kc (nearly US$40) for a crappy lunch, and two short pours of beer (400ml, should have been 500ml) for three times the normal price (95Kc, should have been ~20-30).
Although the food choices are pretty slim and grim, the architectural choices abound:
“The Experienced Guide”
As in tourist areas everywhere, guides tout their services in whatever languages they speak (I heard mostly UK English & German here).
Crowds in the square
The area by the Astronomical Clock (subject of the next post) is especially crowded near the top of the hour as throngs gather to see its hourly procession of saints.
The Town Hall’s tower, completed in 1364, rises above everything except the spires of the Tyn Church. For a small fee, one can go up it, but we didn’t get to that, having climbed several other towers in other parts of town.
There is really a wealth of architectural styles here, ranging from the 1300s to the early 1900s, and it’s quite a feast for the eyes, if you can look past all of the tourists, “olde tyme” cart rides, etc etc etc.
Týn Church at sunset
Unmissable, and one of my favorite sights in Old Town Square is the beautiful late-Gothic Týn Church, built roughly between 1300 & 1400.
Jan Hus memorial
An interesting historical irony lies in the above picture. The gold disk in the center of the church, now a depiction of Mary, was formerly a golden chalice, the symbol of Hussitism. According to Wikipedia:
In 1626, after the Battle of White Mountain, the sculptures of George of Podebrady and the chalice were removed and replaced by a sculpture of the Virgin Mary, with a giant holy made from by melting down the chalice.
And now, in front of the church, is a large monument to Jan Hus (sort of an early Martin Luther), who fought the Catholic church, and died for doing so.
Before leaving tourist-central, one more post is required to examine one of Old Town Squares most famous sights, its Astronomical Clock.
- 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)
- Part 7: Staromestske namesti (Old Town Square) <– You are here
- 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