Prague Old Town Square
Step into the Prague Old Town Square, and journey back in time. As you stand in the middle of the square, you can’t help but be in awe of the ancient buildings, magnificent churches, and dramatic history of this capital city of the Czech Republic. The Old Town Square – Staroměstské náměstí in Czech – is one of two main squares in Prague. The other is Wenceslas Square, which is just a 5 minutes walk away. Old Town Square is located between Wenceslas Square and the Charles Bridge.
The Old Town Square dates from the 12th century and started life as the central marketplace for Prague. Over the centuries buildings of Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic styles were erected around the market, each bringing with them stories of wealthy merchants and political intrigue.
A wonderful way to fully appreciate the beauty of the Old Town Square, it to sit back and soak up the atmosphere over a coffee or a cold beer at one of the pavement cafés lining the square. Or climb the Old Town Hall Tower for a stunning view over the square.
We came to the Prague Old Town Square via this narrow alleyway, pictured above. Immediately, we saw on of the most notable sights on the square: The Old Town Hall Tower & Astronomical Clock. Other well-known sights around the square are the Tyn Church and the St. Nicholas Church.
The Astronomical Clock
The Astronomical Clock, which is on one side of the Old Town Hall Tower, dates back to the 15th century. To fully appreciate the clock’s intricate construction, we joined the crowd that gathers everyday in front of the tower. What a great Old Town experience: To watch the procession of the Twelve Apostles, on the hour, every hour. A small trap door opens and Christ marches out ahead of his disciples, while the skeleton of death tolls the bell. Below the Astronomical Clock are 12 medallions with the signs of the zodiac, added by Josef Manes in 1865.
The Old Town Hall Tower, built in 1338, is one of the most striking buildings in Prague. Inside is a staircase and an elevator. For a fee, visitors can climb or ride to the top to experience terrific views over the Old Town Square and the rest of the Old Town. Housed inside the Old Town Hall is the primary Prague Tourist Information Centre in its reception area.
Beer and Czech Food
A definite must-do in the Prague Old Town Square is to stop at one of the Traditional Czech food stalls that line the area. Czech food is not exactly what one would call dietary, however it goes perfectly with the flavourful Czech beer. Choosing which of the delicious dishes you want to try first is the hardest part. Next up you pay, get your food and then wedge yourself a spot at one of the stand-up tables.
Above, Behind the tables you can see a large stall selling a number of top Czech dishes, and of course, beer. We decided to go for a Kolbasa Sausage, a HEAPED portion of Halušky (potato with cabbage and bacon), and two pints of beer. As you can imagine, from just looking at it, the halušky, sausage, spicy mustard and brown bread were each a absolute compliment the rest.
The Church of Saint Nicholas
The Church of Saint Nicholas (Czech: Kostel svatého Mikuláše) is a Late-Gothic and Baroque church in the Old Town of Prague. It was built between 1732-1737 on the site of a Gothic church from the 13th century which was also dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Since we hung around this old town square for a few hours, arriving in the late afternoon, we got to witness some beautiful sunset colors behind the the Church of Saint Nicholas.
The square is filled with all sorts of live entertain at any time of the day, but especially so around sunset. While locals and tourist walk around, finding Czech foods to sample, do some shopping, and admire the architectural sights, entertainers gather… to entertain! The man above was playing music with wine glasses filled with varying levels of water.
Admittedly, there were a number of rather odd characters among the entertainers – but that is the beauty of this sort of live entertainment. If you don’t like what you see you can simply walk away, and if you do, you can leave some money as a token of your appreciation. I really enjoy the acoustic covers of some of some artists – so those always cause us to stop and admire for while. Sometimes we grab a beer from a nearby convenience store, and sit down to listen.
There was a man creating bubbles from large pieces of solution-dipped fabric. All of the kids in the square were absolutely hooked! Justin helped Eli “chase” the bubbles. It was quite amusing to watch Eli’s face as Justin made him fly towards a big bubble.
Church of Our Lady before Týn
This Old Town square features various architectural styles including the Gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn, which has been the main church of this part of the city since the 14th century. The church’s towers are 80 m high.
We say “cheese” and try to take a selfie of the three of us together, and Eli turns to kiss Mama. This left us all giggling – his cuteness just too much sometimes. A minute later we try again to take out picture, and he turns to hug daddy.
We left the Old Town square through the arch underneath this tower, and then made our way to the closest subway station. Although we had our car with us in Prague, we had decided not to drive it into the busiest area of the city as parking might have been a challenge.
An afternoon spent exploring the Prague Old Town Square really is a journey back in time. We loved the food, the beer, the chimney cakes, and the exquisite architecture. No trip to the Czech Republic would be complete without a stop in Prague, and although big cities aren’t our most favorite stops, we did enjoy our time here.