Who doesn’t love Starom?stské nám?stí (Old Town Square) in Prague?
Yes, it is one of the most touristy places in Prague, but make the effort to spend some real time here– find a spot to relax, tune out the crowds, and allow yourself to absorb this great square piece by piece.
The square is located between Wenceslas Square and Charles Bridge. If you follow the crowds from Charles Bridge, you won’t miss it, but do yourself a favor, get off the crowded street that goes from the bridge to the square, which is full of shops selling overpriced crap, and wander some of the back streets. They are gorgeous, and with a map or the willingness to ask for directions, you will end up at Old Town Square in no time.
The huge square also reflects Prague’s rich architectural history: the Astronomical Clock, Old Town Hall Tower, and Church of Our Lady Before Týn date from medieval times, while other buildings show Renaissance decoration, and the imposing St. Nicholas Church is a masterpiece of the Baroque. Each of the buildings is wonderful in its own way.
The Jan Hus monument in the middle of the square reminds us of the history that has taken place in this very spot (this predecessor to the Protestant movement was burned at the stake in Old Town Square in 1415).
Climb the tower for an amazing view of the surrounding buildings and streets. Go there at night to see the square beautifully illuminated. Take a second to be thankful that this square wasn’t destroyed through the years, especially in WW2, which destroyed so many other historical gems of Europe.
The market stalls sell some goofy souvenirs, but there are some real Czech handicrafts sold there too. The painted eggs are a traditional Czech art and make precious souvenirs. If you are there before Easter or Christmas, check out the holiday markets; the Christmas market is amazing. It runs daily in December and includes not only goods for sale, but also carols, lights, hot wine, and decorations. There are similar markets in other locations in the city center.
One great thing about this square is that it’s very close to other must-see sights and lovely streets to wander down. After you’ve had your fill of this magnificent square, go off in any direction and keep exploring. There is much more to see just around the corner, including the decadent Pa?ížská street, the Jewish quarter, Celetná Lane, the art nouveau masterpiece the Municipal House, and the beautiful Estates Theater where Mozart debuted “Don Giovanni,” and you can see a world-class opera.
Written and contributed by Jenna