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Old Town Square

A visit to the Old Town Square of Prague is really a journey back into history. Originally dating back to the 12th century, the square started out as Prague’s central marketplace, gradually merchants built houses, and it became the place for the rich and powerful to live and visit.

The most famous building in the square is probably the Old Town Hall with its magnificent astronomical clock. On the northern side of the square stands St Nicholas Church, a beautiful Baroque building decorated in the Jugendstil style. The church of Our Lady Before Tyn is no doubt the most recognizable of the buildings with its towering spires. Close by is the house at the Stone Clock with its superb Gothic windows. To the left of this stands the Kinsky Palace with its delicate Rococo Facade. To the south of the square stands a series of buildings with colourful mix of Renaissance and Baroque facades, including Storch House with its painting of St Wenceslas. At one time, the buildings in the square had no numbers, so they were given names to identify them such as the Red Fox, and the Stone Ram.

The square and some of the streets surrounding it have been designated as a pedestrian only zone, so this is a good place to visit and to just sit and let the world go by, especially during the summer months when you can have a drink or maybe a meal at one of the many outside cafés that surround the square. There can be few places in Europe where from one place you can see such a range of attractive and colourful yet historically important medieval buildings.

The Jan Hus Monument, created by Czech sculptor Ladislav Saloun, was erected in 1915 on the 500th anniversary of the death of the fervent Czech nationalist and reformer. Jan Hus was born in 1369 and became a protestant reformer who challenged the corruption of the Vatican and the Catholic Church as a whole. The Catholic Church, fearing his popularity excommunicated him and in 1415 he was burned at the stake. On hearing the news of the death of Jan Hus, his followers, based in Prague revolted bringing about the Hussites war, during which time many monasteries and churches were destroyed.

In 1915 the ruling Habsburgs refused to officially acknowledge the monument, this angered the local population so much that they protested by covering the monument in flowers. The Jan Hus Monument has since been seen as a symbol of Czech independence.

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