Prague Old Town Information
The Old Town of Prague is one of the largest, best preserved and most beautiful in the world. Its origins date back to the 11th century. By the 13th century when it gained the title and privileges of a town it was a proud and bustling place with its huge marketplace, solid boundary walls with thirteen entry gates, and large moat for protecting the town. Of course it still wasn't called the Old Town, this didn't happen till the 14th century when Emperor Charles IV decided to massively increase the scale of the metropolis by building a New Town alongside the existing town. And so it is until this day, Prague has a distinctive Old Town and New Town. The centerpiece of the Old Town has always been the Old Town Square dominated by the Church of Our Lady before Tyn and the Old Town Hall with Prague Astronomical Clock.
Old Town Square or in Czech (Staromestske Namesti) has been Prague's heart since the 10th century and its main market place until the beginning of the 20th century, a focal point of celebrations and demonstrations down the years. Church of Our Lady before Tyn dominating the square was built in 1365 on the site of an earlier Romanesque church. Between the early 15th century and the year of 1620 it was the main Hussite church in Prague. A beautiful entrance portal decorated with scenes of Christ's passion and a huge Rococo altar on the northern wall are its most striking features. Right of the altar there is a tomb of the Danish astronomer Tycho de Brahe who worked at the court of the Emperor Rudolph II. Returning outside again to the centre of the square one cannot miss the Jan Hus Monument which was completed in 1915 on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death of Jan Hus, the Czech Hussite reformer. It shows two groups of people, a young mother symbolising national rebirth and the figure of Hus emphasising the moral authority of the man who gave up life rather than his beliefs.
Walking along the elegant Celetna St from Old Town one reaches the impressive Powder Gate begun in 1475 during the reign of King Vladislav II Jagiello to form one of the 13 entrances to the Old Town. In 1483 it was left unfinished because the king moved to Prague Castle. Between 1875 and 1886 the tower was rebuilt, decorated and steepled by Josef Mocker. The gate acquired its present name in the 17th century when it was used to store gunpowder. Today, there is a small exhibition about the tower and it is open for great views. Right next to it is Municipal House Prague's landmark Art Nouveau building. Above the main entrance there is a huge mosaic "Homage to Prague" by Karel Spillar. Inside, there is the Smetana Hall – the biggest concert hall in Prague, number of smaller halls, conference rooms and offices, cafés and restaurants to relax and admire the inner decoration. The Old Town in Prague include also Charles Bridge and Jewish Quarter -Josefov listed on UNESCO historical sights
Local Experts recommendations for Old Town
St. Havel Church
Old Town Square
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