Old Town Square (Staromestské námestí)

The Old Town Square is one of the oldest and most memorable squares in Prague. Its shape is irregular and formed by charming houses. Most of them originate from the middle ages and were late renaissance or baroque renovated. Often their origin goes back as far as the roman period. Ground- and parts of the first floors are preserved in the cellars of the later gothic houses. According to professional sources there are about sixty of those houses with a roman origin on or nearby this square. Although they are very old, the quality of these roman, stone walls is very good. On the east side of the square stands an early gothic house (nr. 604/14) which used to be the Týn School. Through this house there is a passage to the monumental Týn Cathedral. In the cellar of the house there is the heart of a roman building. It dates from the 13th century and has arbours, which are typical for gothic buildings of that period. Arch gables of the Venetian type were added during renaissance renovations. Next to it stands a corner house “U kamenného zvonu” (“At the Stone Bell” – nr. 605/13), the most attractive gothic house in Prague with a beautiful façade. The house “U zlatého jednorozce” (“At the Golden Unicorn”) is another example of late gothic buildings with roman foundations.

At the corner of Parízská ulice (Paris Street) stands the lofty church of Saint Nicholas. Originally it belonged to the Slovak monastic order of Benedictus, in the 18th century for some time to the Russian Orthodox Church, from which period dates the chandelier in the shape of a czar crown. Presently it is used by the Czech Hussite Church. In the 18th century the church was for a certain time desecrated and acrobatics were performed in its cupola. The Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard, who swam the English Channel, demonstrated his techniques here in the year 1791. The baroque church was a project of Kilian Ignaz Dienzenhofer. The ornamental plastering is by Bernard Benetti and the frescos are made by Kosma Damian Assam. On the west-side is the so-called Little Square (Malé námestí) where stands the historically valuable fountain with reanaissance iron grating.

The square is dominated by the high tower of the Old Town Hall, in which is the magnificent astronomical clock Orloj. On the east wall hangs a plaque, with the names of 27 leaders of the revolts against the Habsburg family. The crosses on the pavement indicate, where they were executed. The monument of Jan Hus at the centre of the square reminds us of another historical event. Jan Hus was burnt in 1415 at the synod in Konstanz, because he openly criticised the church activities, especially the indulgences. The monument was created by Ladislav Salouna and is an important work of the modern-art period. The square is crossed by the meridian, according to which the time was measured. A time in which most historical events of the Czech nation often concentrated on the Old Town Square.