Old Town Square, or Staromĕstské Námĕstí in Czech, is perhaps one of the prettiest squares in all of Europe, in a totally non-biased opinion. It feels as though it’s been plucked out of a storybook and placed in the middle of Prague.
Old Town Square connects Wenceslas Square and the Charles Bridge so it gets very crowded. But thankfully, it’s a huge square so the crowds never really detract from the beauty. It started in the 10th century as a main marketplace but has since evolved to house many political and social events as well as historical buildings.
This square is very unique in Europe in that it’s home to three distinct styles of architecture that somehow all work together: Baroque, Rococo and Gothic. Here’s a quick spin around that shows them all…for about .25 seconds.
We start on the north side with St. Nicholas Church, a gigantic Baroque church from the 18th century.
The entrance opening into the square is quite elaborate, however, this is technically the side entrance. The main entrance faces west, but that also faces the Jewish Quarter. In anti-Semitic Europe of yesteryear, apparently you didn’t want to “waste” the beautiful entrance on the Jewish side. Absurd to think that was their mentality!
And speaking of ridiculous anti-Semitism, apparently Hitler loved Prague and it remained largely unharmed in terms of architectural damage during WWII. The Jewish Quarter is also relatively in tact, with many old synagogues still standing, which is fairly unusual. Hitler wanted to use the Jewish Quarter in Prague as a “living museum of how an extinct race used to live”. Again, just absurd.
Franz Kafka is one of Prague’s most famous children. He was actually born in the building attached to St. Nicholas Church.
Moving east, Pařížská Ulice jets off. This is better known as the most expensive street in Prague, home to affordable stores such as Prada, Bulgari and Dolce & Gabbana. It’s the tree lined street on the left in the picture below. How could you possibly shop Prada without a bit of shade to protect you as you walk into the store?
Continuing around the square, we have the Jan Hus Monument, a religious icon from the 14th century who has come to symbolize Czech independence.
Next is the Rococo style National Gallery.
And finally, our trifecta of architectural styles, the Gothic Church of Our Lady Before Týn.
I could stare at this church all day, and in fact, have many a pictures trying to capture its beauty…
…which is basically impossible. Rumor has it that it’s one of the buildings that inspired Walt Disney while building Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.
Here’s a nice little flashback pic of Mikela and I in front of the Týn Church: at 20 in 2006 and now at 30 in 2016.
Right in the middle of Old Town Square is the Astronomical Clock, however, that warrants its own blog post, so more to come on that.
There are many cafés surrounding Old Town Square and while it’s slightly more expensive ($4 for a beer? Noooo!) it’s worth it for the atmosphere and people watching. Jillian and I enjoyed a beer right next to the Astronomical Clock…
…and Mikela and I went to Hotel U Prince’s rooftop bar to enjoy a drink with a view.
Old Town Square is equally impressive at night, although no pictures can do it justice.
Between this month and my study abroad, I’ve spent a significant amount of time in Old Town Square. And every time I walk into the square, I’m still blown away by its beauty, charm and almost magical feel.