Old Town Square in Prague: clocks, temples and lots of Chinese

Guide to Old Town Square in Prague + photos and some horror

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Do not be surprised: Old Town Square in Prague is so interesting, there are so many beautiful buildings and monuments with unusual history that it deserves a separate guide. A small, read here for a few minutes. But when you come to the Old Town Square in Prague, you will not have eyes dazzled by the abundance of sights and you will know exactly whether or not the creator of the Prague clock had his eyes poked out. And remember the phrase: “Thank you, I don’t need a tour, I’m my own guide”. You will need it on the Old Town Square. Ten times.

Old Town Square in Prague: the main attractions

Background information about Old Town Square

Old Town Square in Prague is the most interesting place of the Czech capital along with Prague Castle and Charles Bridge . All the roads lead here, the first place tourists go to, here are the main sights of the Old Town. We will tell you about all these sights below, meanwhile – a couple of sentences about the square itself.

Old Town Square, as the name suggests, is located in the center of the Old Town of Prague (Stare Mesto). Back in the XII century trade was boiling there and the square was called The Old Market. Gradually the square was enhanced by masterpieces of architecture in many architectural styles, the town hall and beautiful cathedrals were built there, and since the late XIX century it has carried its present name – Old Town Square. However, until now this place has not lost its “market” flavor: here you can buy food and souvenirs, beer and wine, there is the eternal noise and bustle and there is a huge number of tourists from all over the world .

Are you ready to dive into this madness? Then now we will tell you about the most interesting buildings and sights that await you at Old Town Square in Prague.

Old Town Square in Prague.

We have walked around Old Town Square both in summer and winter, and it is always equally beautiful.

We are not going to bore you with history or names of architects – there is Wikipedia and school textbooks for that. We will just tell you briefly about each building and give you a few interesting facts. Dissertation on “Old Town Square in Prague” according to our article you are unlikely to write, but if you are a tourist, this text will be very useful to you.

Old Town Square in Prague: map with sights

As already mentioned, Old Town Square is located in the heart of Prague’s Old Town, so many public transport routes go here. The nearest metro stations are Staroměstská (green line) and Náměstí Republiky (yellow line) . You can get here by bus # 194, streetcars # 2, 17, and 18, as well as the night bus # 93, the Staroměstská stop.

Old Town Hall

The town hall was built at the end of the 12th to the end of the 13th century.

History. In 1338 the Czech King John of Luxemburg allowed the Old Town to have its own body of self-government – the town hall. The main town hall building was the 12th century Gothic house in the center of Old Town Square, bought from a rich merchant.

Gradually, the town hall grew by building new houses and buying old ones, and now the Old Town Hall consists of several buildings from different centuries and in different styles, mainly Gothic and Romanesque. The tallest of them is the Old Town Hall tower (69.5 m). From the very beginning this complex of buildings served as the Town Hall of the Old Town and in 1784 it became the City Hall of the whole Prague.

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It is an interesting fact. The Old Town Hall has seen a lot of things in its lifetime, and not all events are marked with a plus sign. For example, in the Middle Ages in the basement of the town hall there was a prison, and not for petty crooks, but for those sentenced to death, who had their heads chopped off right there on the Old Town Square.

One of such events is known as “execution of 27 Czech noblemen” (participants of the revolt against the Holy Roman Emperors) who had their heads cut off in the summer of 1621. It is said that the ghost of the executioner Jan Mydlář, who beheaded the rebels, still sometimes comes to work and clangs his sword in the dungeon of the Old Town Hall in the old memory.

Tip. Be sure to climb the observation deck of the Town Hall (height – 59 meters, the ticket price – 250 CZK). From it you can see not only the Old Town Square with all the sights, but the whole city with Prague Castle in the west and Žižkov Tower in the east. You can enjoy pictures of Prague from the Old Town Hall observation deck in this article .

Old Town Square in Prague. In the photo: Old Town Hall.

When seeing Old Town Hall and other similar buildings in Europe I always wonder what law obliges Russian architects to build only ugly buildings for city halls and why it won’t be repealed.

Astronomical clock on the Old Town Square (Prague Chimes)

Year of construction: 1410.

History. The Prague Chimes (or Orloj in Czech) is the oldest astronomical clock in the world that still works today.

The clock on Old Town Square consists of two dials. The upper one is astronomical; it shows not only the current time in Prague (Central European time), but also the Old Czech, Babylonian, sidereal, the time of sunrise and sunset, as well as the phases of the moon and the position of the sun and moon among the 12 constellations of the zodiac. In general, the most important information for modern man.

The lower face of the Prague Astronomical Clock is a calendar dial, which can be used by those who know the month, date and day of the week, as well as non-working days and Christian holidays. In general, what tricks people went to in order not to open the search engine. On the sides as well as above and below the dials are interesting statues, among them an archangel, a philosopher, a Turk, an astronomer and, of course, Death.

Interesting fact. You’ve probably already heard the chilling story that the creator of the Astronomical Clock on Old Town Square (master Hanush of Rouge) was blinded on the orders of dastardly city council officials, so that he could not replicate such beauty anywhere else.

The dastardly city council officials are a reality, but the blinding of the creator of the Prague Chimes is nothing more than an urban legend. Such a horror story is an inherent attribute of many masterpieces. The same fate allegedly befell the creator of chimes in the Czech Olomouc and architects of Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral, but all this is no more than myths. I’m sorry if we upset you.

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Tip. Above the upper dial of the Astronomical Clock is a statue of an angel, with windows to its right and left. When the Prague chimes strike the next hour, the figures of the 12 apostles appear in turn in these windows. When the performance is over, the windows close and the rooster, seated above the angel figure, cries out.

The performance of the Prague Astronomical Clock is one of the favorite tourist attractions. Near the end of each hour there is a big crowd lined up on the Old Town Square waiting for the miracle, so you should arrive 15 minutes beforehand.

Old Town Square in Prague. Pictured: Prague Astronomical Clock.

The clock on Prague’s Old Town Square is two dials and several figures: an astronomer, a philosopher, Death and other respectable people.

Old Town Square in Prague. Prague astronomical clock.

Every hour, the Old Town Square in Prague is filled with tourists who want to see the show: the figures of apostles appear in the windows above the chimes. Some with a key, some with a cross and some with an axe.

Týn Church (Church of the Virgin Mary before Týn)

Years of construction: 1350 – 1411.

History. The Gothic Temple of Our Lady before Týn is the main cathedral of the Old Town. Týn is a small merchant’s square next to the Old Town Square, where the old customs building is located. A church on this site stood already in XI century, and in the middle of XIV century it was decided to build here a larger church. The height of the church towers – 80 meters.

An interesting fact. In the middle of XV century the facade of the Temple of Virgin Mary before Týn was decorated with a gilded 400-liter bowl. Storks made a nest in it and carried frogs and snakes to their nestlings, which sometimes fell out of the bowl, causing fits of merriment in the congregation. It is said that once a frog fell on some nobleman’s head in front of the whole parish, and is there anything funnier in the world? Laughter is not a godly thing, the archbishop decided, and when the birds once again flew south, he ordered the bowl to be removed. And at the same time he removed the plaque with the inscription “Truth Wins. So that people were not deceived.

A piece of advice. A local legend says that if you step on the tombstone in the Tynskyi temple, you will have a toothache. So if you happen to have a toothache on Old Town Square… If anything, we didn’t tell you anything.

Old Town Square in Prague. Photo: Týn Church (The Church of the Virgin Mary before Týn).

Týn Church, view from the Old Town Hall observation deck.

Jan Hus monument

Year of opening: 1915.

History. Jan Hus (1369 – 1415) – priest and preacher, rector of the Prague University, creator of Czech spelling rules, national hero of the Czech people. His sermons often conflicted with the position of the official church, which he did not hesitate to criticize. For example, he opposed indulgences, the sale of church offices and generally called for church reform, for which he was burned at the stake.

The death of the preacher led to years of Hussite wars of independence, which, incidentally, did not end well. The Jan Hus monument at Old Town Square in Prague was unveiled on July 6, 1915 – the day of the 500th anniversary of the hero’s death.

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An interesting fact. Jan Hus monument was created entirely by public donations.

Advice. If you are a rebel at heart, but do not want to make a revolution, not to upset your mother, just sit and sit on the bench at the Jan Hus monument at Old Town Square. That way you can join the thousands of Prague dissidents and make a silent protest against anything.

Jan Hus became the main symbol of the Czechs’ struggle for freedom from every yoke, from Habsburg to Communism, and during the years of socialism, the people of Prague would come and simply sit at the monument, thereby expressing silent protest. At first, these and other actions led to the Prague Spring, but in 1989 it ended much better: with the Velvet Revolution and the peaceful overthrow of the Communists.

Photo: Monument to Jan Hus on Old Town Square in Prague.

Jan Hus Monument at Old Town Square in Prague: The preacher (pictured left) surrounded by followers and first-wave Czech immigrants.

Church of St. Nicholas

Years of construction: 1727 – 1739.

History. Temples dedicated to St. Nicholas have stood on this site since at least the 13th century. The buildings were rebuilt many times, and the church in its present form is the result of one of these “rebuilds.” In 1870-1914, it was the main Orthodox parish in Bohemia and Slovakia, and now it is the main church of the Czech Hussites, the followers of Jan Hus, who separated from the Catholic Church.

An interesting fact. During World War II, the church of St. Nicholas was the headquarters of the Czech partisans. It was from here that the banned Radio Prague, whose office was seized by the Nazis, broadcast at the time.

Tip. At St. Nicholas Church on Old Town Square in Prague, look out for the huge glass chandelier in the form of an imperial crown. This work of art was given to the church by Russian Tsar Alexander II in the years when the church was an Orthodox parish.

The cathedral of St. Nicholas. Old Town Square in Prague.

Around St. Nicholas Church on Old Town Square at Christmas and Easter, there is a procession of crosses.

Other sights on Old Town Square

Old Town Square in Prague is a place one can talk about for hours. We have told you about its most interesting sights in detail, now we want to say a few words about other interesting buildings. You can find them all on the map of Old Town Square at the beginning of the article.

House “By the Stone Bell” . A Gothic building from the 13th century, it was the home of Eliška, the mother of Emperor Charles IV (after whom the Charles Bridge is named). Stone bell installed on the corner of the house. Nowadays in this building exhibitions and concerts of local musicians are often held.

Kinsky Palace. Built in the middle of XVIII century in Baroque style. There was a gymnasium in the building, where Franz Kafka studied in the late 19th century, and the writer’s father Hermann had a dry goods store in the same building. Today it is the showroom of the Czech National Gallery.

Storchov House, also called the House of Four Styles (combining Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Romanesque styles). It occupies a building of the XV century reconstructed several times, the Gothic balcony and a beautiful fresco on the wall with the image of St. Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czech Republic, above whom storks are hovering.

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Photo: Old Town Square in Prague, Tynsky Cathedral, House at the Stone Bell and Kinsky Palace.

Old Town Square in Prague. On the left (with the red roof) is the Kinsky Palace, next to it is the House by the Stone Bell, with me in the foreground.

Old Town Square in Prague. Photo: Storkhov House.

This house belonged to the Storch family, whose surname translates to “stork.”

Hotels near Old Town Square

When coming to Prague, many tourists like to stay in the Old Town, near Old Town Square. This is one of the most convenient places for walks around Prague: the sights of the city center are within walking distance and streetcars and metro are close by. Hotels here are more expensive than in the city, but everything worth seeing is within walking distance.

Hotels near Old Town Square
  • Hotel Hastal Prague: wine is free of charge. All day!
  • Old Town Square Apartments : with a kitchen and a real fireplace
  • 7 Tales Suites : rooms in the style of Czech fairy tales (witches, monsters)
  • Charles Bridge Aparts : interiors like in foreign design magazines.

Prague sightseeing tours of Old Town Square

Old Town Square is on the itinerary of many tours of Prague (it should be!). If this format of sightseeing is to your liking, you should read our review:

I can also recommend you three good tours from Tripster.ru, where local guides will tell you many interesting stories about the main square of Prague and not only:

As you can see, dear friends, Old Town Square in Prague is a separate world with its sights, mysteries and legends. And in the next article we are going to tell you about the amazing place that is literally in five minutes walk from the Old Town Square – the great and terrible Charles Bridge. Yes, there are many legends and events connected to it that make this place terribly interesting! What the legend about the devil and tourists is alone.

Old Town Square in Prague: clocks, temples and lots of Chinese

Old Town Square in Prague is the place where tourists begin to get acquainted with the city. What is there to see and what should you be prepared for? We tell you about our contradictory impressions and the main attractions of the square: opening hours, entrance fees, location, how to get there.

Staroměstské náměstí (Old Town Square) is a beautiful square where the Chinese from all over the world seem to have gathered. European and Russian tourists are also in abundance. The closer it gets to the astronomical clock performance, the greater the concentration of people and the higher the selfie sticks go. The place you want to hurry to run and not come back – there are so many tourists here!

But you have to visit the square and see the sights. You’re better off getting there early. Late at night is also good: Tourists scatter among the beer gardens and cafes, and the square is empty. By day it’s crowded. There are stalls with street food on the square, and many high-end cafes. From the beginning of December, the main Christmas market opens and the Christmas tree is installed.

From the square goes Cieletna Street, full of souvenir stores – you can walk up it to the Gunpowder Tower. Behind the Church of St. Nicholas, the Jewish quarter of Josef begins.

sights on Old Town Square in Prague

Town Hall and Astronomical Clock

Staroměstská radnice – that’s how the town hall is called in Czech. The curious astronomical clock on Old Town Square is called the Orloj (orloj). It gives a mini-performance every hour from 8:00 to 22:00. Just imagine, it’s the oldest working clock in the world – since 1410! There are a lot of people who want to see this miracle, take a seat. You can learn about the symbolism of the figures, the deciphering, the structure of the clock, and interesting facts here in English (top horizontal menu).

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The coolest view of the square and the Týn Church is from the tower of the Town Hall (and also from the roof of the restaurant U Prince). Entrance to the tower is 250 CZK. Check the official website for prices.

Astronomical clock on Old Town Square in Prague

Church of Týn

The Týn Church (Kostel Panny Marie před Týnem) is a cathedral that we have come to Old Town Square more than once. It’s my favorite church, I think one of the most beautiful. However, I was not impressed from the inside. In the evening is beautifully lit.

Working hours: Tue-Sat 10:00-13:00 and 15:00-17:00, Sun 10:00-12:00, Mon-Fri weekend. Photos are prohibited. Climbing the towers seems to be impossible. Entrance from the center through the archway of houses. Ask for a donation of 25 CZK.

A useful selection:

Týn Church on Prague's Old Town Square

Church of St. Nicholas

In Czech, the church of St. Mikuláš (Kostel sv. Mikuláše). Beautiful paintings, baroque decoration, a chandelier in the form of an imperial crown, presented by Alexander II. There is another church of St. Nicholas, but it is in Malá Strana – not to be confused, they look a bit similar.

Opening hours: Mon-Sat from 10:00 to 16:00, Sat from 12:00 to 16:00. Admission is free, there are paid concerts.

St. Nicholas Church on Prague's Old Town Square

St. Nicholas Church on Prague's Old Town Square

Interesting houses

  • “U Minuty” (Dům “U Minuty”) – a beautiful bourgeois house with murals. It is located on a corner on the left side of City Hall, facing the clock.
  • “At the Stone Bell (U kamenného zvonu) – house in the form of a Gothic tower between the Kinských Palace and the Týn Church.
  • Štorchův dům with frescos and a neo-Gothic balcony on the south side of the square. Facing the Týn Church on the right.

Old Town Square in Prague

old town square in prague what to see

Jan Hus monument

This monument to Jan Hus is situated in the middle of the Old Town Square. There are benches around it where tired tourists like to rest.

Christmas market and Christmas tree on Old Town Square

The main Christmas fair and Christmas tree is put up right here. But the main one does not mean the most beautiful. We visited several fairs (at Žižkov, Prague Castle, Wenceslas Square, Peace Square) and we liked the one on Peace Square, near the Gothic St. Ludmila Church. There are few tourists there, mostly locals.

The fair on the square is usually December 2 – January 6 from 10:00 to 22:00.

Old Town Square Fair in Prague

How to get to Old Town Square?

You can get there by subway – get off at the station Staroměstská (line A). You can also take streetcar #1, 2, 14, 17, 18, 25, 53 and bus #194. We always walked through Wenceslas Square.

Old Town Square on the map

Photos of Old Town Square

Tourists like to grab a bite to eat and have a glass of beer at Old Town Square. Musicians entertain the public. Old Town Square, like the entire center of Prague, is occupied by such fancy dress characters. Tourists mostly move in flocks. In the center of Prague you can find beautiful alleys. Many houses in Old Town Square are very picturesque.

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