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by Holiday Jo
Kettering, United Kingdom
February 13, 2004
In the centre of the Old Town is the astronomical clock, which chimes every hour on the hour and all the tourists gather to look up to the tower. On the tower are the apostles, which move around to the chimes of the bells; although not the highlight of my holiday, this was definitely worth a visit. We also took a trip up the tour and the views from the top were amazing -- you could see right over to Charles Bridge and up to the castle.
All around the old town square, there are cafes and restaurants where you can sit outside and watch the world go by; beware because the drinks and food are more expensive than in other areas of Prague.
In December in the old town square, all the Christmas markets are set up and you can wander round for hours looking at all the handmade puppets and the varieties of food on offer.
From journal The Pleasures of Prague
by Wildcat Dianne
November 26, 2003
Staromestske Namestie is lined with old cobbled roads, Baroque buildings, old churches, and statues. Its most popular sight is the Staromestske Radnice (Town Hall) with its tall towers and famous Astronomical Clock (orloj), which deserves its own separate journal entry. The Staromestske Radnice is a series of private buildings dating from 1338. The row style of housing was because the city of Prague was short of money and this was the most cost-effective of architecture.
At the end of World War II, Nazi shells partially destroyed the Gothic chapel and a wing on the north side with shells. The chapel has been reconstructed since then. On the tower's eastern side, a plaque commemorates the Red Army and Czechoslovak victory in 1945 at Dukla Pass in Slovakia. This was the first area that was liberated in what was then occupied Czechoslovakia.
Also on the eastern face of the Town Hall is a plaque that contains a roll call of the 27 Czech Protestant nobles who were beheaded here in 1621 after the Battle of Bila Hora. Bila Hora was a hill near Prague where Czech Protestants during the 30 Years War staged an unsuccessful revolt against the Hapsburg Empire, which had recently taken over Bohemia and Moravia. There are crosses on the ground where the executions took place, and I found them very chilling.
Also nearby is the statue of another Protestant martyr, Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake in Constance, Germany in 1415. The statue was unveiled in Staromestske Namestie in 1915, the 500th anniversary of Hus's death.
Staromestske Namesti is located in the heart of Prague's Old Town, or Stare Mesto. It is a mandatory visit when you visit Prague, but it is very crowded in the summertime and around Christmastime with tourists from all over the world. The best time to visit it without the crowds is in the fall or springtime. I went during the summer, and it was a quick trip that didn't allow me to soak in the culture and history of this beautiful and historic place in the old city of Prague.
From journal Golden Prague
August 20, 2003
On one end of the Square is Our Lady before Tyn Church with its Gothic steeples, dating from 1365. Next to it is Kinsky Palace. Also in the Square is the white Church of St. Nicholas, once Russian Orthodox, now Protestant.
From journal Prague-Magic's Residential City
November 30, 2002
Dominating this spot, the Astonomical (or as some argue, Astrological) Clock of Old Town Hall warranted photo-taking, but we did not stay for the hourly display of its dazzling parts in motion. Already partially obscured by others waiting to see this display, the clock is, indeed, beautiful, so my husband persevered and got some good photos of it from different perspectives. Since it is nearly seven hundred years old, the clock is really worth seeing for its plant and animal carvings represent masterly craftsmanship. And it really is an astrological, not astronomical, clock with its 12 signs of the zodiac. Later, we were to see the original calendar face of this clock at the city Museum. We did not take the guided tour of the Town Hall as its entrance was already stuffed with fellow tourists waiting to enter.
Other notable sites here are the Church of Our Lady before Tyn (Gothic) and the baroque Church of St. Nicholas. And, of course, there's the Memorial to Jan Hus,smack dab in the middle of this square, which more accurately conforms to one’s expectations of a "square,’ than Vaclavske Namesti does,and it attracts the highest crowd concentration. History is all around you in this square, but, if you dislike crowds, as I do, you only look at the exteriors. Fortunately, the exteriors are magnificent. The visitor should not miss this site because it juxtaposes so dramatically in miniature the old and the new, in a space more concentrated than Vaclavske Namesti.
From journal So, You want to go to Prague?
Charlotte, North Carolina
July 5, 2002
Keep in mind that everything in the Old Town is only a few blocks away from the square including some of my favorite sites like the Charles Bridge, the Old Jewish quarter, and some great shops and restaurants.
From journal A Wonderful Prague Weekend
April 8, 2002
This square is the historical centre of the city, the old marketplace where the various trade routes of Central Europe intersected and where the merchants traded there wares. The square has always been right at the heart of the city’s turbulent history and some of its most important events have been played out here.
In the centre of the square is self-taught Czech artist Ladislav Šaloun's 1915 Art Nouveau statue of Czech church reformer Jan Hus who was burned for heresy in 1415 by the Holy Roman Emperor. This is an emotive symbol for the Czech people and was covered with flowers in 1915 after the Habsburg’s refused to hold an official unveiling, daubed with Swastikas in 1939 by invading Nazis, draped in black during the soviet invasion of 1968 and still a popular meeting place for local and tourists alike today.
Surrounding the square is a bewildering array of fine Baroque buildings including Staroměstské Radnice with its ever popular astronomical clock, ubiquitous Prague architect K. I. Dienzenhofer’s 1732 Kostel sv. Mikuláše (St. Nicholas’s Church) and 1755 Palác Goltz-Kinský now home to the National Gallery and rising above it all the magnificent twin spires of the Gothic Kostel Panny Marie před Týnen (Our Lady of Týn Church).
Most of the rest of the buildings have been given over to overpriced café’s that spill-out into the square with the pavement seating areas, there are still some relatively cheap-eats to be grabbed however from the stall of the small tourist market behind the Staroměstské Radnice, which also has a large pavement seating area.
Taken together this creates one of Prague’s truly unmissable sights although during the day, especially during the hourly chiming of the clock, the crowds can make the place unbearable if however you get there early in the morning you’ll have the place pretty much to yourself.
From journal Prague’s Old Town: City of a Hundred Spires and a Billion Tourists
July 23, 2001
From journal Prague for Pennies
New York, New York
July 17, 2001
There are many cafes, souvenir shops and street fairs during certain seasons. The crowds are there throughout the day and in addition, you have to keep a watch for the horse-drawn carriages that tour the city's center. The building styles include the Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau, among others. It is eclectic but somehow, coexists in harmony with each other. By the Hus Memorial, there are benches to sit and watch people go by.
At the side of the square, next to the famous Astronomical Clock, is the tourist information center. Though not the only one in town, this is by far the largest and most informative. The building itself is beautiful and once inside, there are two lines: One for information and one for ticket purchase to cultural events. The agents were very friendly and helpful.
I personally would not have any meals in the square, as the menus looked overpriced and geared towards the tourist. The Jewish Quarter (Josefov) is only a couple of blocks away and would be a much better choice for food.
From journal Three Days in Prague
December 11, 2000
Buzzing with activity, Staromestske Namesti is centrally located at will be passed through numerous times on your journeys from one end of town to another. It's also a great place to stop, rest, and people watch. Soaking up the character of this great plaza is fun, until the snow has completely soaked into your shoes.
From journal Czech Republic: Prague
London, United Kingdom
July 29, 2000
From journal Prague - a jewel among cities