Prague Old Town (Stare Mesto)
The heart of Prague is the Old Town and its central square. In the 11th century the settlements around the Castle spread to the right bank of the river the Vltava. A marketplace in what is now Old Town Square (Staromestske namesti) was mentioned for the first time in 1091. Houses and churches sprang up around the square, determining the random network of streets, many of which survive. The area gained the privileges of a town in the 13th century, and, in 1338, a Town Hall. This and other great buildings, such as Clam-Gallas Palace and the Municipal House show the importance of the Old Town.
Powder Gate in Prague
There has been a gate her since the 11th century, when it formed one of the 13 entrances to the Old Town. In 1475, King Vladislav II laid the foundation stone of the New Tower, as it was to be known. A coronation gift from the city council, the gate was modeled on Peter Parler's Old Town bridge tower built a century earlier.
The gate had little defensive value. Its rich sculptural decoration was intended to add prestige to the adjacent palace of the Great Court.
|Address||Namesti Republiky, Prague, Czech Republic|
This lovely Rococo palace, designed by Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, has a pretty pink and white façade crowned with statues of the four elements by Ignaz Franz Platzer. It was bought from the Golz family in 1768 by Stepan Kinsky, an Imperial diplomat. In 1948 Communist leader, Klement Gottwald, used the balcony speak to a huge crowd of party members - a key event in the crisis that led up to his coup d'état. The National Gallery now uses the Kinsky Palace (Palac Kinskych) for art exhibitions.
|Address||Staroměstské náměstí 12, Prague, Czech Republic|
House At The Two Golden Bears
If you leave the Old Town Square by the narrow Melantrichova Street, make a point of turning into the first alleyway on the left to see the portal of the house called "At The Two Golden Bears (Dum U Dvou Zlatych Medvedu)". The present Renaissance building was constructed from two earlier houses in 1567. The portal was added in 1590, when a wealthy merchant, Lorenc Stork, secured the services of court architect Bonifaz Wohlmut. His ornate portal with reliefs of two bears is one of the most beautiful in Prague.
Prague New Town (Novo Mesto)
The New Town of Prague, founded in 1348 by Charles IV, was carefully planned and laid out around three large central market-places: the Hay Market (Senovazne Square), the Cattle Market (Charles Square) and the Horse Market (Wenceslas Square). Twice as large as the Old Town, the area was mainly inhabited by tradesmen and craftsmen such as blacksmiths, wheelwright's and brewers. During the late 19th century, much of the New Town was demolished and completely redeveloped, giving it the appearance it has today.
Church of Our Lady of the Snows
The Church of Our Lady of the Snows (Kostel Panny Marie Snezne) was founded by Charles IV to mark his coronation in 1347. The name refers to a 4th-century miracle in Rome, when the Virgin Mary appeared to the pope in a dream telling him to build a church to her on the spot where snow fell in August. Charles's church was to have been over 100 meters (330 feet) long, but was never completed.
|Address||Jungmannovo namesti 18, Prague, Czech Republic|
Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí)
Wenceslas Square has seen many key events in recent Czech history. It was here that the student Jan Palach burnt himself to death in 1969, and in November 1989 a protest rally in the square against police brutality led to the Velvet Revolution and the overthrow of Communism. Wenceslas Square in Prague is a vibrant area of hotels, apartments, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. There are also banks and local and international shops. It is the entertainment and nightlife centre of Prague, and the main shopping and commercial district begins here. Wenceslas Square is one of the two main squares in Prague, so it's a popular place for visitors to stay (the Old Town Square is the other square, just 5 a minutes walk away). The square lies at the heart of the New Town. While there is plenty of history in this part of town for the visitor to immerse themselves in, it's also very easy to walk from here to any part of the city center. Wenceslas Square is really a boulevard, measuring 750 meters long by 60 meters wide. It was originally laid out as the Prague horse market 650 years ago. Ever since it has been a parade ground for all kinds of organisations and political parties. From anti-communist uprisings to celebrations of national sporting achievements, Wenceslas Square is where the Czechs gather to let off steam. The square can hold up to 400,000 people. At the top of the Square one finds the monumental National Museum, and just off to the left is the Prague State Opera. In front of the National Museum, a statue of St. Wenceslas on his horse cuts a striking figure. This is the good King Wenceslas (Svatý Václav) himself, murdered a thousand years ago by his brother, and the patron saint of the Czech Republic. There are two plaques on the ground near St. Wenceslas which commemorate those killed during the communist era. One is dedicated to Jan Palach, who set himself on fire in protest at the Soviet invasion.