Old Town Square

Once upon a time, on the site of the Old Town Square, there was a noisy market. Without any plan, a settlement began to be built around it. And later, the settlement turned into the Old Town.

Old Town Square has always been the center of the town’s public life. The Town Hall was here. General meetings were held here. Town criers read the decrees of the king here. Convicts were executed here. The most famous execution on the square occurred in 1621. The hangman Jan Mydlar beheaded 27 leaders of the uprising against the Habsburgs. White crosses indicate the place of execution on the cobblestones near the Hall building.

Photo of the clock tower and southern wing of Old Town Hall in Prague

The houses around the square were built back in Romanesque and Gothic times. The facades that we see today were created mainly during the Renaissance and Baroque period.

Photo of the House At the stone Bell and the Church of Our Lady before Tyn,

At the Stone Bell House is one of the most valuable in the Old Town Square. It’s easy to recognize it: a stone bell hangs on the corner. Long time this beautiful gothic house was covered with a baroque facade. From 1975 to 1987, painstaking work was carried out, and the house got back its original medieval appearance. Since 1988 the building has been at the disposal of the Prague Gallery and is used for exhibitions.

To the left of it is the Goltz-Kinsky Palace. Anselmo Lurago designed this Rococo palace for Count Jan Arnost Goltz. They said that the count bribed the consuls in the Old Town Hall to allow him to build a palace, which will not follow the line of houses on the square. Soon after the construction was completed, Jan Arnost Goltz passed away. František Oldřich Kinsky bought the building. And the Kinsky family owned it until 1945. Today the palace is used by the National Gallery.

In the center of the square stands a monument to Jan Hus - a priest and rector of Prague University. It is also believed that he proposed superscripts, which are still used in Czech spelling today. Hus lived in the late 14th – yearly 15th century. In his sermons in the Betlem Chapel, he began to criticize the Catholic Church because the clergy and monks think more about power and wealth than about spirits. The Catholic Church accused him of heretic, and on July 6, 1415, Jan Hus died on a stake. The sculptor Ladislav Saloun created a monument to Jan Hus in 1915.

Photo of Old Town Square

We can also see the column with the Virgin Mary in the square. It is a copy of the column, which stood here from 1650 to 1918. The was a lot of controversy around its restoration. Opponents saw it as a symbol of the 300 years when the Czech kingdom was part of the Habsburg monarchy. Supporters argued that the artistic and historical value of the column is more important.

Photo of the column of Virgin Mary and towers of the Church of Our Lady before Tyn, Prague

One way or another, a copy was installed in June 2020. And now, as in the old days, we can check the exact time by its shadow: precisely at noon, the shadow of the column falls on the Prague meridian marked in the cobblestones.

In the square, you can see two churches - St. Nicholas and Tyn and the Gothic Town Hall with the famous astronomical clock.

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