Karlovo náměstí (former New Town Square or Cattle Market) is an oasis of peace in the centre of Prague. This square will dazzle not just due to its green space and park but also due to the buildings surrounding the square. Let´s explore the most familiar ones
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Remarkable building surrounding the square
Concerning the buildings surrounding the square perhaps the New Town Jesuit College with St. Ignacio Church is the most distinctive view point. After their arrival to Prague the Jesuits bought 23 houses and gardens and built here a college with the chapel of St. František Xaverius. The complex together with the Clementinem and the area around church of St. Nicolas in the Lesser Town used to be one of the centres of the Jesuit order in Prague.
In the second half of the 17th century the college was extensively reconstructed in the Baroque style and on the corner with Ječná street St. Ignacio Church according to the designs of Martin Reiner and Carlo Lurago. After the cancellation of the order in 1773 the college was shortly used as barracks and later as hospital which is still operating here and is supposed to be the oldest hospital building.
University Hospital and Faust House
Es for the estates in the southern side of the square we certainly need to mention the extensive healthcare complex, the contemporary Fakultní nemocnice (University Hospital) which was carried out by gradual reconstructions of the former Ústav šlechtičen (Ïnstitute of Noblewomen) according to the projects of Franz Herget in 1790. Another Classicist – Art Nouveau clinic by Matěj Blechta comes from the period between 1915 – 1920. This part of the square is closed by one of Prague´s most popular houses in general – Faustův dům (Faust House). This house which is Gothic in its core and was modified in the Renaissance style at the end of the 16th century and which is also called Mladotův palác (Mladota Palace) had gained its mysterious reputation due to its several owners who were obsessed with natural sciences incl. experiments in chemistry and alchemy. Perhaps the most familiar of them were Edward Kelley, the court alchemist of the Empeeror Rudolph II, and Josef Mladota of Solopysky, who installed mechanical rarities in the house such as automatic figures, a door that was closing by itself above the staircase which was able to levitate with guests. Perhaps that was the reason why the legend of Doctor Faust referred to this place and it is definitely interesting to know that seven cats were found immured in the historical brickwork during the construction modifications at the end of WW2.
The present gap between the estates at the metro vestibule formerly used to be the place where one of the most significant New Town houses – dům U Šálků (House At the Cups), originally Gothic and rebuilt in the Baroque period, was standing. There used to be a brewery in the 17th century, later even a large brewery garden. In Autumn of 1938, when it was decided to pull it down due to communication reasons, the tap-room and a long narrow café in the groundfloor – the place which was called „U Šmudlinky“ because of its shabby look or „Noodle“ because of its shape – and which was visited mainly by students, pensioners and poor people, was still operating. This house which was once called U pěti zvonečků (At the Five Bells) was even mentioned by the writer Karolina Světlá in her story Zvonečková královna (The Queen of Bells).
Building of the Czech Technical University
On the opposite corner there is a building of Česká technika (Czech Technical University) from 1869. The object itself had adopted the already deconsecrated sacral Baroque church of St. Jan Boromejský with was an auditorium in its aisle and a house of the priests emeriti. While the building is still being used by the school the church became a place of services again and was assigned to the Czech Orthodox Church and in 1942 became famous for the brave resistance put up by seven paratroopers who had carried out assasssination of Reinhard Heydrich.
Just next-door a functionalist house called after its predecessor Černý pivovar (Black Brewery) is situated. The brewery was not called black due to beer (or stout) but rather because of the blackish colour of the its facade. It is still commemoratedd by the house sign in the form of a relief of a lion and notice ČERNÝ PIVOVAR.
Building of the Court
The monumental Pseudo-Classicist building of the former k.u.k. Criminal Court is the main view point of the northern part of the square and the object is still operating these days because it is a residence of the City Court in Prague and District Court for Prague 4.
Another significant object in the eastern part of the square is the so-called Braunův dům (Braun´s House) which can be proved by its honourable position very close to the town. The most imporatnt facts are inscribed in the commemorative plaque pointing out that in the first half of the 18th century the house belonged the the family of the famous Baroque sculptor Matyáš Braun who died here on February 15th, 1738.
It is certainly worth mentioning the already unpreserved house U Žateckých which used to stand approximately in the middle of the estates at the eastern side of the square. It was constructed at the end of the 19th century by Jan Otto, one of the most significant Czech publishers, whose printing office used to be situated in the yard and became famous mainly due to publishing of Ottův slovník naučný (Otto´s Encyclopedia).
120 00 Praha-Nové Město
Subway/Underground line B - stop Karlovo náměstí
Tram – 3, 4, 10, 14, 16, 18, 24, 52, 53, 54, 55 – stop Karlovo náměstí
Barrier-free access: yes
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