Old Town Square

PHA-Staroměstská radnice16

ikona_disabled22Alongside Prague Castle the Old Town Square is the most important place in Prague. Its long history goes back to the 11th century when the square formed the crossroads of several long-distance trade routes and served as a marketplace. It was known across the whole of Europe at that time.

Celebrations, jousting tournaments and executions took place there.

In 1321 King John of Luxemburg held a jousting tournament on the square, which he took part in himself. He was badly injured and for a long time his life hung in the balance.

One of the most wretched events to take place on the square happened in 1621, at the beginning of the Thirty Years War, which affected the whole of Europe. 27 Czech nobles, knights and burgers, leaders of an anti-Habsburg revolt, were executed. The events of that day are commemorated by a plaque on the eastern side of the Old Town Hall. 27 crosses formed by cobblestones near the town hall mark the site where the executions took place. It is said that Emperor Ferdinand, who had the rebellious Czechs decapitated, ordered drums to be beaten loudly during the execution so as not to hear the defiant cries of the condemned. For instance Prokop Dvořický z Olbramovic, before he went to his death cried: „ Tell the emperor that I now stand before his unjust court, but he will face a terrible and just one“.

In 1945, as World War II was drawing to a close, fighting took place here during the Prague Uprising and the Old Town Hall was severly damaged.

The Old Town Square is a national monument.

The remains of some very old buildings have survived on the square. Even here the original ground level used to be 2—3m lower. This means that some of the present-day houses sit on the remains of Romanesque cellars. Many of these now house restaurants and winebars, a visit to which provides the opportunity to see these medieval spaces. The houses on the Old Town Square are like a textbook of almost all architectural styles going. You’ll find Gothic, Renaissance and baroque elements, and on the south side of the square you’ll discover houses which still occupy their medieval plots of land, evident from their narrow facades.

Some of the most fascinating buildings on the square are the Kinský Palace, The House at the Stone Bell, The Týn School and the Štorchův House.

The names of houses here and throughout the medieval parts of the city are very often derived from a house symbol which can be found on the facade.

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