on June 13, 2006
The Old Town of Prague is spread along the right bank of the Vltava River and around the Old Town Square. The pattern of streets and squares has remained largely unaltered since the Middle Ages. It is an area we kept returning to time after time because there was just so much to see and do.The first settlements on the site of the Old Town for which there is any historical evidence date from the 10th century. According to a contemporary report, a large market place with numerous stone houses covered the site of the present Old Town Square. As the years went by, this market place was fortified with a city wall in the early 13th century. Unfortunately, there is no evidence of this today as far as I could see. In 1338, the Old Town was given the right to have its own Town Hall.All the busy streets near the border of the New Town lead to the Old Town Square. They approach the square from all sides and make it a natural center. It is the obvious place to start your Prague discovery tour. Despite the touristy trappings and the crowds we found it so interesting that it was tempting to spend all our time here. After wandering around and doing some sightseeing, we stopped at an outdoor café and people watched while enjoying a coffee.The impressive memorial in the center of the square honours the great reformer Jan Hus and was erected in 1915 on the 500th anniversary of his death. The houses on the east side of the square form a fascinating backdrop and are typical of the Old Town. These and the towers of the Tyn Church, give the square its special character.The Square has two other showpieces; The baroque Church of St Nicholas and the Old Town Hall. The Old Town Hall dates from the 14th century. The tower was built in 1364 and the famous astronomical clock dates in its earliest form from 1410. Unfortunately, the clock was covered with scaffolding when I visited and was not operating but in normal times it drags crowds to this spot each hour to watch Death ring the death knell and turn the hour glass upside down, the apostles pass the windows and a cockerel flaps its wings and crows. There are guided tours of the Old Town Hall and its exhibition rooms.
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