Prague Minos Guide

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Old Town

A walk through the Old Town – the heart of Prague
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You will now see the Old Town, one of the oldest historical centres in Prague and Central Europe. In the thirties of the 13th century, King Wenceslas the First decided to create a real city. The town originally covered an area of approximately 140 hectares, which was more than Nuremberg at that time (almost 100 hectares) or Paris at that time (about 70 hectares). The first streets started to emerge around the oldest houses, they were therefore narrow and winding, which is also what we want to show you, among other things during this tour. You will walk along these streets and experience

the "spirit" of this part of town going through various passages and arcades. We will take you to places most visitors never go to. You will of course see the best known places, for example the Old Town Square which is the heart of this town. As you walk on, you will become familiar with the different architectural styles found in Prague. You will see many historical monuments and their magic. They are now part of the UNESCO heritage and you will certainly chance upon some Prague residents who always love their city. Ready, so lets start our more detailed sightseeing tour.



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0.0km / 2.832km 1. Powder Gate

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You are now standing on the Republic Square in front of the 15th century Powder Gate, which was one of the most important gate to the Old Town. It is connected to the Obecní House, a very popular Art Nouveau building from between 1905 - 1911. It is here that the independance of Czechoslovakia was formally declared, hence the name Republic Square. The Municipal House is a cultural centre with a concert hall. The Art Nouveau coffeehouse to the left on the ground

floor is worth visiting. The Classicist Building u Hybernů houses a musical theatre. The pink front of the former military barracks from the 19th century conceals a shopping centre.
In front of the Czech National Bank begins Na Příkopě Street which leads all the way to the Wenceslas Square (Mustek). Next to the Powder Gate there is the 1930 - 1932 building of the "Komerční Banka" (Commercial Bank). Go through the Power Gate and enter the Old Town.

0.156km / 2.832km 2. House At the Black Madonna

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We are standing in the Celetna street, one of Prague’s oldest, which was already renowned in the Romanesque era and still retains the same prestige today. Its name comes from the “caltas”, which were plaited buns made by the many bakers settled in the area. On a corner of the street stands the House At the Black Madonna (Dum U Cerne Matky bozi) dating from 1911-12. It is the greatest Cubist building constructed in Prague by Josef Gocar. This type of architecture doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world and is much admired by visitors and locals alike.
We once again recommend that you visit the

café built in this same style on the 1st floor, the other floors being devoted to an exhibition about Czech Cubism. The plaque on the mint palace that faces the Cubist house reminds of what used to be its function until 1784. Next to it is the Neo-Baroque building of the Region and County court. The House At the Golden Angel (Dum U Zlateho Andela) used to be a fancy hotel, and following restoration works it was recently reopened for guests from all over the world. Take a walk down the Celetna street, lined with Baroque houses and palaces that quite often hide well preserved medieval cellars.

0.201km / 2.832km 3. Fruit Market

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The oldest name was "Nové Tržiště" (New Market) that differentiated the market place from an older marketplace on the Old Town Square, which we shall see later. The name "Ovocný Trh" (Fruit Market) has been in use approximately since the year of 1870. Fruit was sold here at the beginning of the 20th century. No permanent markets are held. The premises underwent renovation work and they are now used for exhibitions, various presentations, etc. Each year before Christmas, an artificial ice-skating rink is set up to the pleasure of adults and children.
The Building u České Orlice from 1897 is impressive

owing to its Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Gothic style and because of its decorations made by M. Aleš. It is today headquarters of "Komerční Banka" (Commercial Bank). The Palace Myslbek, which is today a busy place was originally the work of Czech and French architects. Please, notice the iron gate decorated with sculptures of human heads. The Kolowratský Palace with its beautiful early Baroque front today houses the neighboring Nostic's Theatre. Another stage of the Nostic's Theatre is here, it´s called "Divadlo Kolovrat" (Spinning Wheel Theater). Both theatres have their box offices here.

0.336km / 2.832km 4. Nostický Theatre – Karolinum

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This theatre was completed in the Classicist style between 1781 and 1783 and its construction was funded by F. A. Nostic-Rieneck (the theatre was named after him). In this theatre Mozart conducted his opera "Le Nozze di Figaro" and his operas "Don Giovanni" and "La Clemenza di Tito" had their premiere. Later the building was purchased by the Bohemian Estates, hence today´s name "Stavovské Divadlo" (Estates Theatre). The Czech Republic National Anthem had its premiere here as well. The facade

of the building bears the Bohemian Lion and a sign with the text "Patriae et Musis". The theatre is one of the most prestigious scenes in Prague.
The Karolinum is used for the needs of the Charles University. The Charles University was founded in Prague in 1348 following Emperor Charles the Fourth impetus. He wanted Prague to become one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The Charles University was the first higher-education institution in Central Europe. Notice the Gothic oriel.

0.584km / 2.832km 5. Building u Černého Slunce

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Josefina Dušková, renowned singer in whose house Mozart was a guest, lived in the Building u Černého Slunce. Mozart actually lived in Prague while he was very popular thanks to the success of his opera Don Giovanni. The Building u Českého Lva still retains its original seal. The Týnský Church will empress you thanks to its size and monumental towers. A copy of the sculpture of the Virgin Mary reminds us of the plague pillar which stood on the Old Town Square in the past.
Behind the church,

you will find sgraffito decoration in the Týnský Courtyard, the Otýněný Courtyard, the former gathering place of merchants who used to have a good time here. It seems people always enjoyed themselves here if we go by the place Latin name Laeta Curia – Happy Court. In the evening, you can listen to music in the Jazz Club u Trumpety. If you feel like making a turn and peeking inside the Týnský Court, you will be rewarded with the quaint and quiet Renaissance Building of Granovský.

0.726km / 2.832km 6. Týnský Courtyard

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The Týnský Court called Ungelt or Týn "Otýněný Dvůr" (Walled Court), was a place where foreign traders could warehouse their merchandise and spend a night. Over time, a fee paid for the protection of traders became a regular customs duty charged on the merchandise imported to Prague or transported through Prague. In the 14th century, this customs duty was called Ungelt, hence the second name which is still in use. The Court's Latin name, "Laeta Curia" (Happy Court), suggests this was a rather boisterous place. Today's Ungelt is still a walled

court with two gates. It has been restored.
The Granovský Building is today the best preserved Renaissance structure in Prague, especially its arcade balcony and sgraffito decorations. The geometrical shapes of the sgraffito decoration can be seen closely near the gates. Restaurants, coffeehouses and their terrace make the courtyard very pleasant indeed. There are also shops, a jazz club, a theatre, a hotel, etc. Those who live here are certainly fortunate. In the evening, the lit Týnský Church brings its own special atmosphere to the area.

0.971km / 2.832km 7. Church of St. Salvatore

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The church of St. Salvatore is a Gothic-Renaissance building constructed between 1611 and 1614 for the German Lutherans. they had attempted before to acquire one of the existing churches in Prague but unsuccessfully. The land was donated to them by Count Šlik, who was himself an Evangelist and money was collected throughout Europe. The church included a parish, a school, and a six-year Lutheran High School for 200 pupils. The Lutherans kept their church only eight years, Emperor Ferdinand the Second took it from

Later the church was used by the Pauline Order. It was closed down under Joseph the Second. Later a mint was established in the church which thoroughly damaged it. Today it is used as a praying chapel for the Evangelist Church of the Czech Brotherhood. The interior is simple, with only the necessary furnishing and empty walls as dictated by the Evangelist rules.
The Štenc Building is situated opposite the southern side of the church. It was built between 1909 and 1911 for a publisher named J. Štenc.

1.303km / 2.832km 8. Franz Kafka Square

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We are at the edge of the Jewish Town (Josefov) and the Old Town. There is a plaque on the corner house reminding us that this is Franz Kafka´s birthplace (1883), a prominent Jewish writer from Prague. In 2000, the adjacent area was named after him. Foreign visitors are sometimes confused by a red plaque with the words "Náměstí Franze Kafky". You will not see the words "Franz Kafka Square" because the Czech language uses declensions which modify the endings of words depending on the case, like in Slavic and some other

languages. The East facade of the Baroque church of St. Mikuláš is dominated by a statue of his patron. The church is used by the Czechoslovak Hussite Church. Classical music concerts are held here. The building on the other side dates from 1926 - 1928, it is the city of Prague town Hall. At the end of the street, one can see Kaprova Street and the Philosophy School of the Charles University, and farther the Prague Castle, largest monument in Prague, towering over the Vltava River, it is no longer that far.

1.45km / 2.832km 9. Mariánské Square

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On the side of the Clam-Gallas Palace, there is an alcove with a public fountain, which houses a copy of the sculpture Vltava, popularly called Terezka. One side of the square features the rear side of the Klementinum, a former Jesuit college, today the headquarters of the National Library. The building of the National Library was built from 1926 to 1930. Today, in addition to the library, it houses a marionette theatre called World of Puppets (known throughout Europe – the international marionette theatre organization UNIMA was founded here in 1929),

an exhibition space, a concert hall, a seminar room, and the representative condominium of the Mayor of Prague.
If it´s your lucky day and the library is open, just climb a couple of flights of stairs and explore the interesting collection of books. Six allegory figures decorate the attic. New Prague City Hall is an Art Nouveau showcase. Most important are the larger-than-life statues on both corners – an Iron Man (recalling a legend related to the nearby Platnéřská Street), and Rabbi Loew (Jewish scholar reminding the proximity of nearby Josefov).

1.697km / 2.832km 10. Church of St. Jiljí

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The church of St. Jiljí was built in the 14th century. It is the only church in Prague consecrated to this saint. In medieval times, St. Jiljí was one of the most controversial saints in Western Europe. The legend says that he owned a tamed roe deer, which was one day tracked by King Wamba´s hounds. The king shot an arrow into the bushes, rushed and saw the wounded St. Jiljí holding his roe deer while the king's dogs were frozen to the ground as if by magic.
Famous Bohemian

priest Jan Milíč of Kroměříž preached in the church from 1364. The church was reconstructed into the Baroque style with financial contribution from famous artists of that time.
There is also a famous building belonging to today´s "České Učení Technické" (Czech Technical University), the oldest technical university in Europe founded in 1707. The facade was reconstructed in the Baroque style in 1730 by F. M. Kaňka. We will also look at the house u Zemských Desek.

1.832km / 2.832km 11. Building u Vejvodů

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Lets admire the superior beauty of the facade of the Renaissance Building u Vejvodů. It is really worth paying attention to it. The name comes from one of numerous owners, Mayor Jan Vejvoda of Stromberg, who bought the house in 1707. He was nominated Mayor of the Old Town of Prague by Maria Theresa. Above the Renaissance portal, you can see the stucco seal of a different owner, Mayor Turek, who became famous in 1648, when he fearlessly took command o a group of men in order to defend the Old Town against the Swedes.
One details of the seal is

"FIII", recalling Emperor Ferdinand the Third, the issuer of the seal. The restaurant is open after expensive repair work. Taste the beer like many have done it before, such as famous personalities of the Czech nation, for instance journalist K. H. Borovský or historian František Palacký. Between this house and the Míčový Building, in which the Italian Ringgolini established a ball hall, the picturesque Vejvodova Street turns to the right (a living proof of the natural development of this quarter) and then it opens into Michalská Street.

2.004km / 2.832km 12. Coal Market

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The name "Uhelný Trh" (Coal Market) comes from a blacksmith shop and a mining foundry plant that also sold charcoal here in the 14th century. Today, it is a quiet small square, where artists paint and sell their work in the summer. A copy of a Classicist fountain is decorated with an allegory of Winemaking and Agriculture. Across the square, we can see St.Martin in the Wall Church. As the town developped, the church found itself very close to the city fortification wall, hence its name "in the Wall". The plaque with a portrait on the facade

of the house at the corner of the Skořepka Street reminds us of W. A. Mozart who was accommodated here in 1787.
The Neo-Renaissance school building (today an elementary school) was built between 1882 and 1883. A double portal dominates its facade which corresponds to the school having two distinct parts. The left part was for the boys and the right part for the girls. The metal relief portraits depict the teachers. One of them is J. A. Komenský, whose portrait is also on the 200 CZK banknote. Let us continue through the Havelský Market.

2.066km / 2.832km 13. Corner of Melantrichova Street and Havelská Street

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Havelská Street is named after St Havel church, Baroque towers, Baroque facade, sculptures. The former Municipal Saving Bank of Prague from the 19th century is now the "Česká Spořitelna" (Czech Saving Bank). Havelský Market goes back to medieval times, it is today the only permanent outdoor market in the Old Town. You can buy fruit, vegetables and souvenirs 7 days a week.
Melantrichova Street is named after Jiří Melantrich of Aventin, who owned a

house and a printing shop here. In the 16th century, his printing shop could compete with the best European printing establishments of the time. The street is very lively, a direct link between the Wenceslas Square (Mustek) and the Old Town Square. Walking along, you will see for example the house u Zlatého Lva, the house u Pěti Korun, or the house u Modré Lodi with a bust of composer Mysliveček. Let us go back to the small alleys and arcades.

2.34km / 2.832km 14. Building u Dvou Medvědů

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The Building u Dvou Zlatých Medvědů with its richly decorated Renaissance portal attracts the eye, it is one of the most beautiful in Prague. The two bears theme is easily explained – it comes from the name of the previous house dating from the beginning of the 16th century that was named "Building u Zlatého Medvěda" (Golden Bear House). There are two male bears with plant tendrils on the portal. The hop plants on the left side remind us that this used to be a brewery in the 15th century. The gate

is Rococo.
The plaque remembers journalist and writer E. E. Kisch, who was born in the house in 1885. The building is today used by the City of Prague Museum Direction. If not too tired, have a look around the house u Závoje (Kožná Street 6), it conceals a very nice arcade. You might want to take a little rest. Looking towards the end of Melantrichova Street, you can see the tower of the Old Town City Hall, a favourite with photographers. Take the right way via the passage into Michalská Street.

2.474km / 2.832km 15. Small Square

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Initially, the space taken up by the Small Square was the continuation of the road that went from the Old Town market to the Vltava ford. Its triangular layout originates from the Romanesque era. The fountain with the Renaissance latticework and the emblem of the Czech lion was built in 1560 and water used to be pumped from the well over which it was set. The Neo-Renaissance Building U Rotta is decorated with paintings of Crafts and Agriculture designed by Mikolas Ales. Very few people know that the first Bohemian Prague Bible was printed in 1488 in a house that used to stand here.
The Classic portal on the High Baroque

tripartite façade of the Richter's House is decorated with an allegory of the four seasons. The houses At the Golden Lily (U Zlate Lilie), At the Golden Eagle (U Zlateho Orla) and At the Little Black Horse (U Cerneho Konicka) can be recognized thanks to their authentic house emblems. The house At the Golden Horn (U Zlateho Rohu) displays preserved remains of Renaissance sgraffiti – you can easily recognize the figure of Justice. You have certainly noticed the gaslights that emit a shimmering light, which at night give an awesome aura to the paved streets. Let’s now continue down the meandering Karlova Street.

2.663km / 2.832km 16. Old Town Square

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The Old Town Square is one of the oldest, and Prague residents favourite. The square is more than 9,000 square metres. It was the main marketplace as early as in the 13th century. The square has always held events, festivals and manifestations important for the entire country (for instance the Velvet Revolution in 1989 being one of the recent ones). Each year during the Easter and Christmas holidays, Markets take over the square. Every spring marathon runners from all over the world gather

here to compete at the International Prague Marathon. Czech citizens also welcome their national sportsmen here when returning from victorious international competitions.
Despite the square being ladden with history, it is very lively, it is a place where foreign visitors as well as Prague residents meet to listen to and watch the Astronomical Clock. We recommend the evening walk, which will impress you with its well lit monuments, for instance the towers of the Týnský Cathedral.

2.739km / 2.832km 17. Jan Hus view

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The monument to famous Czech reformer Jan Hus from 1915 was unveiled on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of his burning to death at the stake. A short distance in front of the monument is the Prague Meridian marked by a metal plaque in the pavement. The original placement of the Plague Pillar (torn down in 1918) is visible thanks to the new foundation stone for a projected copy. The facade of the Golz-Kinský Palace in Rococo style is optically divided into five parts so as to make a harmonious whole with the neighbouring houses. However, it was moved forward of the houses in order to show its significance.

Franz Kafka studied here at a former secondary school.
One cannot tell that the St Nicolas church was originally separated from the square by houses. The Pařížská Street, thanks to its beautiful residential buildings from the turn of the 19th and the 20th centuries, could be called "textbook" of Historical styles. This part of town was created when major renovation of the original Jewish Town was undertaken. Parts of the wall that used to be a wing of the Old Town City Hall remind us of the fighting that went on at the end of World War II, in its place there is a pleasant small park perfect to rest a little.

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