November 2, 2005
German merchants, invited at the behest of Václav (Wenceslas) I (1230-53), first settled Havelské Mĕsto (St Gall’s Town) in 1232-34. Being merchants one of their first requirements was a marketplace where they could to set-up their stalls and sell their wares. A great plaza was laid out for them running the length of the modern day thoroughfares of Havelská ulice (St Gall’s Street) and Rytířská ulice from Ovocný trh (Fruit Market) to Uhelný trh (Coal Market) and around this the merchants constructed their homes.
The jumble of stalls and booths that once nestled in this plaza were later replaced by more permanent buildings including the long since demolished market hall and it’s more recent replacement Staromĕstská tržnice (Old Town Market-Hall). Meanwhile the merchant’s houses developed over the years from simple huts to impressive townhouses with weird names such as U Bruncvíka (At Bruncvík’s) and U zlaté váhy (At the Golden Scales).
Throughout all these changes however the market survived as it continues to do today all be it in a greatly reduced form so now only a handful of stalls stretch up Havelská. These stalls are a curious jumble of greengrocer selling fresh fruit and veg mixed-in with souvenir sellers with their somewhat monotonous range of porcelain cats and wooden witches. A couple more stalls are to be found on and V Kotcích selling designer clothes of dubious legitimacy.
While the range of souvenirs on offer here may often be a little limited the prices are pretty good with postcards, for example, going for half the price they do on the neighbouring Václavské námĕstí (Wenceslas Square) making this well worth the detour if you’re interested.
From journal Prague’s Havelské Mĕsto: The New Old Town