Prague Minos Guide

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Hradčany and Nový Svět

Unique views, a wild park and architectural treasures
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Everybody wants to see Prague Castle, also called Hradčany. It is also unfortunate that not everyone is interested in the town of the same name – Hradčany, which is situated around the road leading from today's Pohořelec to the Prague Castle. It is the third town of Prague founded right after the Old Town and the Lesser Town in 1320. You will walk past famous monuments, for example the Strahov Monastery and its beautiful view over Prague. The pilgrimage place Loreta will greet you with its bell sounds. You will be impressed by outstanding

Baroque palaces. The little quarter called "Nový Svět" (New World) will surprise you with its charming small houses one wouldn´t expect in a capital city. All this will make you approach the Prague Castle in a different and wonderful way. The walk will allow you to observe two different places, which are breathing history and picturesqueness at the same time. The area has never been affected by major urban development; therefore, it has preserved its old-world peace and magic. Come with us enjoy a pleasant and easy walk.



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0.0km / 1.825km 1. Strahov Monastery Gate

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We are now at the very edge of the historical town of Hradčany and thus inside the Prague Unesco World Heritage Site.The Břevnov borough is behind us as well as being behind one of the last remaining parts of Prague fortification walls dating from the 17th century. It has been part of Prague since only the 20th century.
The road going up leads to the Petřín Hill and the Petřín Tower. We are now standing in front of the grandiose Baroque gate of the Strahov Monastery founded after 1140, near the road leading to the former Royal Castle (today's Prague Castle). The name "Strahov" is

derived from the place being used for "STRAHOVÁNÍ", in English "PATROLLING". The cloister is one of the most famous religious monuments in Prague. Since its inception (except during Communism), it has been used by the Premonstratensian Order founded by St. Norbert in France in 1120. The Baroque statue of St. Norbert made by Quittainero decorates the entrance. Right behind the statue there is the Gothic-Renaissance chapel of St. Roch, built between 1602 and 1612 and paid for by Rudolf the Second as a thanksgiving for the eradication of the plague. It is an exhibition hall today.

0.13km / 1.825km 2. Strahov Monastery Courtyard

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The monastery has been restored and is now used by the Premonstratensian Order again since 1990. The church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary is Baroque, but originally a Romanesque basilica from the 12th century. The remains of St. Norbert, founder of the Premonstratensian Order, are deposited here. His remains were transferred here from Magdeburg in 1627. Mozart used to play the organ here. The monastery library, the entrance of which is decorated with a medallion of Joseph the Second, shows how important the development of education and culture was

to the monks. The library is prominent in the Czech Republic. Let us name at least the oldest manuscript from its rich collection – a Parchment Gospel Book from the 9th century. We recommend visiting its historic halls – the Theological Hall and the Philosophical Hall. The Strahov Gallery is open to the public and it features works of art from the 14th to the 19th century. In addition, there is a Museum of Miniatures. In the monastery brewery, you can taste something really special near the brewing pans – the dark beer Norbert, brewed on the spot.

0.18km / 1.825km 3. Panorama

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The terrace and its vineyard offers a magnificent view of Prague. The Petřín Hill and the tower have attracted the attention since 1891. It is a miniature copy of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. At your feet, you can see the Lesser Town with St. Mikuláš. Next, you can see the Charles Bridge arching over the Vltava River. Composer Smetana includes the river in his symphonic poem, also named Vltava. The Old Town shows its towers and the church of the Virgin Mary before the Týn (Old Town Square) is clearly visible. The horizon reveals the most modern

and the highest tower in Prague – Žižkov Television Tower (216 metres). Do you like it?
The St. Vitus Cathedral is inside the Prague Castle complex, the distance allows us to appreciate differently this rare monument. The Schwarzenberg Palace is a beautiful showpiece of Renaissance architecture. The large roof reminds us of the Černínský Palace – today it houses the Foreign Office. You will see both palaces closer later along the route. Let us return to the courtyard of the monastery using the passage with steps, we will arrive at Pohořelec.

0.472km / 1.825km 4. Pohořelec

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The name Pohořelec is very old, 14th century. This area was ablaze many times and the name reflects that fact. In the upper part, we find the former Hradčany Neo-Renaissance military barracks. Between the barracks and the Jan Kepler High School, behind the tram stop, stands a dual sculpture of Danish astronomer Tycho de Brahe and German mathematician and astronomer Jan Kepler, both renowned scientists during Rudolf the Second´s reign. The sculpture reminds us of a house, which was supposedly occupied by these two scientists and which was later demolished when the fortification

walls were pulled down. The Kučera Palace at the corner is Rococo. In the middle of the square stands a Baroque statue of St. Jan Nepomucký, one of the Bohemian land patrons. In the lower part of the square there is the former Hospice of St. Elizabeth and St. Norbert, built to the initiative of the Strahov Monastery. Notice a church front with a raised portal, and a staircase with a group statue named "Kalvárie" (Calvary). Today it is a hotel. In the 19th century, in the late Renaissance Trauttmansdorf House, the renowned Czech painter M. Aleš lived.

0.576km / 1.825km 5. Loretánské Square

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The Loreta Square is one of the most beautiful place in Prague. The Černínský Palace today houses the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is the largest and most monumental Baroque palace in Prague. It was founded in 1669 by H. J. Černín of Chudenice, Imperial Ambassador to Venice, based on architect Caratti´s project. The facade is 150 meters long. There is a statue of second Czechoslovak President Edvard

Beneš. His wife Hana Benešová is remembered by a plaque on the opposite building. The rich Baroque stucco facade of the Building u Černého Vola has a relief of St. Lucas painting the Virgin Mary. There are real as well as still life deception windows. The Russian soldier Belajkov who died on the square during WW2 is buried here, he had expressed the wish to always be able to hear the Loretta chime.

0.663km / 1.825km 6. Loreta

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The name Loreta comes from the Italian pilgrimage place Loreta, where the "Santa Casa" (Saint House) is situated. It was originally a dwelling in Nazareth, Palestine, where the Virgin Mary lived. Archangel Gabriel supposedly predicted the birth of Jesus Christ there. A legend says that once danger was looming, but there was a miracle and the house was transported by angels to Loreta in Italy. The Prague Loreta is a truly architectural jewel founded in 1626. The High Baroque facade is dominated by a tower from 1693, which is known for its chime,

every hour the song called "We Greet You a Thousand Times" is played out. During religious services, different tunes can be played. The terrace is decorated with little angels and the facade with a group statue of St. Felix from 1726. It is open to the public.
Inside, the most renowned object is a diamond monstrance called Prague Sun. It is made of gold-plated silver and decorated with 6,222 pieces of diamonds.
The Capuchin Convent is used by the church of the Virgin Mary Andělská. You can see the Černínský Palace garden through the latticework.

0.951km / 1.825km 7. Building u Raka

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All of a sudden, we are in a different world. This is a former suburb of Hradčany. It was founded shortly after forming the town of Hradčany in the 14th century. Then, it was a quarter for the less prosperous citizens, it is today attractive thanks to its picturesque and ancient character. The name probably originates from it being outside of the city proper, hence "Nový Svět" (New World). Nowadays the Prague residents like this place very much and come for walks here. The oldest document about the house u Raka dates

back to 1739. It is the only timbered building in Prague with a shingle roof; therefore, it has national heritage status. This house gives us an idea about the types of buildings that used to be here before and are now irreplaceably lost. There is a church here, which underwent careful reconstruction. You will easily recognize the house u Zlatého Bažanta. On the way, you will see other buildings with house seals, for example the house u Zlatého Beránka. We believe that Nový Svět will certainly magnetize you.

1.182km / 1.825km 8. Building u Zlaté Hrušky

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The originally Gothic Building u Zlaté Hrušky has a nice Baroque stucco facade from the first half of the 18th century. A restaurant of the same name is situated here. The restaurant was a place favoured by many famous personalities, for instance Václav Havel. The garden restaurant on the opposite side belongs to it as well. A plaque reminds us that Tycho de Brahe lived in the house next door, he was court astronomer and astrologist to Emperor Rudolf the Second. Tycho de Brahe, who cooperated with Jan Kepler, was ceremonially buried in Týnský church in the Old Town.

Did you know that he was the first to measure the geographical latitude of Prague? At the end of the street, you can see the entrance towards the Upper Deers Trench. Rudolf the Second ordered the trench to be turned into a park for big game, and thus the natural trench acquired its name Deers Trench. During the summer season, the trench is accessible to the public. The Lumbe's Gardens named after the former owner J. Lumbe, Director of Prague Technology Institute conceals a villa where the Czech President resides. Prague Castle houses the President office.

1.331km / 1.825km 9. Church of St. Jan Nepomucký

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The church of St. Jan Nepomucký is Baroque architect K. I. Dientzenhofer´s oldest religious building in Prague, built between 1720 and 1729. It was originally built for the neighboring Ursuline Convent, which was closed down in the 18th century and then turned into military barracks. The church facade is decorated with a sculpture of St. Jan Nepomucký and the

niches with statues of St. Joseph and St. Sigismund. After extensive reconstruction, the church is today used by the military. The adjacent building of former St. Anthony hospital is today used by the Office of the President. The premises were used by the Austrian Mission to Czechoslovakia after World War II. The painted ceilings inside have been preserved.

1.575km / 1.825km 10. Hradčany Town Hall

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The Hradčany City Hall is a Renaissance building from 1598. Its facade is decorated with sgraffito with the remains of the Imperial Seal and the Hradčany Seal, and with an allegory named "Spravedlnost" (Justice). The town hall is one of the few that are not situated on the square. The Hradčany Town Hall lost its function after the end of the independent administration of Prague towns in 1784. It is now a residential house. The embossed portal features the Seal of Hradčany. The letter "H" on the gate stands for Hradčany. The narrow metal strip used

to be an official measure, the Bohemian Cubit (57.27 centimeters). A little bit beneath are the town hall stairs, which can be used as a shortcut to the Lesser Town. The former Martinický Palace is now used as barracks for the Prague Castle Guards. The guards leave the barracks for the changing of the watch at Prague Castle at 12 pm, the morning switchover is accompanied by music. The 19th century street lamp has the shape of a big candelabrum.Today, the Renaissance Hrzánský Palace is used to hold meetings of the Czech Republic Government.

1.625km / 1.825km 11. Hradčanské Square

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You are now in the biggest square of Hradčany. The name Hradčany refers to the serfdom town beneath the "Hrad" (Castle) that it once was. The 1541 fire freed the place allowing for new palaces to be built by lay and church lords. They were trying to have their houses built close to the Emperor's estate. The Romanesque Baroque Toskánský Palace was designed by J. B. Mathey. The facade is decorated with the seals of Tuscan Grand Dukes, the attic with an allegory of free arts, and there is a statue of St. Michael in the corner, he is patron of the palace builder. Currently, the Toskánský Palace is used by the Ministry

of Foreign Affairs. The convent of the Barefoot Carmelite Nuns was founded at the St. Benedict church. Observe the beautiful Renaissance Martinický Palace, decorated with stunning figural sgraffito from the Old Testament. One of the documented owners was Jaroslav Bořita of Martinice, one of the governors thrown out of the Prague Castle windows on May 23rd 1618 (beginning of the Thirty Year War). The palace is accessible to the public. The canonic houses are decorated with themes of St. Jan Nepomucký. One of them, the house no. 7, was meant to be Mozart's residence in the famous Forman's movie Amadeus.

1.668km / 1.825km 12. Plague Pillar

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The Plague Pillar of the Virgin Mary with sculptures of saints was consecrated in 1736. The nights will entice you with 19th century gas street lamps. The Schwarzenberg Palace is one of the best-preserved Renaissance palaces in Prague. The last member of the Schwarzenberg family, Karel Schwarzenberg, was until recently the Czech Republic Foreign

Secretary. The entire palace is decorated with sgraffito featuring geometrical shape and a flower theme. It is used by the Prague National Gallery, which opened a new permanent exhibition of Baroque art here in 2008. The Salmovský Palace is an Empire structure from the years of 1800 to 1810. It was made for Prague Archbishop Wilhelm von Salm.

1.804km / 1.825km 13. Statue of T. G. Masaryk

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In 2000, a monument of T. G. Masaryk (1850 - 1937) was unveiled on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the first Czechoslovak President´s birth. The monument reminds us that Prague Castle became the presidential residence during T. G. Masaryk´s Presidency. His portrait is on the 5000 CZK banknote which is the highest denomination. The Archbishop Palace is a monumental late Baroque structure. Archbishop Příchovský´s emblem decorates the frontage. The building is still the archbishop´s official residence in Prague. The passage next

to the left corner leads to Šternberský Palace. Even though we cannot see it from here, we strongly recommend you visit it as it houses the collections of old European art of the National Gallery in Prague. Do not forget the panorama platform and its marvelous view of Prague, the heart of Europe. The forged grating is the main entrance into the Prague Castle. You can watch the changing of the Guard every hour. Their uniforms were designed by an artist named T. Pištěk who also designed the costumes for the Forman's movie called Amadeus.

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