The Old Town Square

Staroměstské Náměstí - The Old Town Square - is a wonderful place to enjoy the atmosphere of the city of Prague. Beautiful architecture rings the square, and there are many restaurants and cafes vying for your tourist money. Gift shops and craft shops, too, and perhaps the interesting market will be open when you visit.

A large open space, in which markets have been held since the eleventh century, it is the most spectacular of Prague's squares. To this day it remains the natural centre of Prague. On one side the buildings of the Old Town Hall and its square tower,

the old town hallentrance to the town hallanother view of the old town hall

and on the other side, the almost fairyland towers of the church of Our Lady of Týn, which contains the tomb of the astronomer Tycho Brahe (who incidentally died after a drinking binge of a burst bladder!), and who apparently had a gold and silver false nose!,

Our Lady of Týnthe Týn church

and around the square superb old buildings now graced with Baroque facades.

around the square

At the foot of the tower of the Old Town hall is marked the place of execution in 1621 of 27 Protestant leaders. The heads of 12 were exhibited publicly on the tower on the Charles' bridge for ten years. 24 of the victims were noblemen, and thus were beheaded, the 3 remaining common people were hung, drawn and quartered! The site is marked by white crosses on the floor:

the crosses mark the place of execution

Another martyr was Jan Hus, burned at the stake for heresy in 1415. He preached regularly in the chapel in nearby Betlémské Náměstí. The monument to him in the Old Town Square dates from 1915 and has become a powerful symbol of Czech nationalism.

the Hus monumentback of the Hus monument

Just around the corner of the square is this delightful building called "At The Minute". In the 1890's it was the home of Franz Kafka. The house is basically Gothic, but has been remodelled in the late Gothic and Renaissance style. The outside of the building is covered with sgraffito on biblical and mythological subjects, and Renaissance legends.

the house 'At The Minute'