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Prague’s Old Town Square: Be a Part of Antiquity, Relics and History

Historical Old Town Square of Prague emerges as a sprawling surprise as you amble through the winding streets of the city of beautiful buildings, colourful houses and modern offices in old Baroque architecture. Bordered with shops and castles and cathedrals with a bustle of activities in the open centre, the scene of the square unwraps itself like an overwhelming surprise. Tourists zooming past on Segway rides, old men selling their charcoal portraits, orchestral music beaming out of sunny outdoor cafes, the scene even in its most ostensible sense, is quite a dream. The art, the music, the time-worn history that the city brings is all pervasive and tangible even for the untrained eye/ear. It’s just the air. Prague as a cultural centre is plentiful beyond words.

Old Town Square

A beautiful aerial view of Old Town Square. Photography by Ryul

Old Town Square: An Overview

Location Central Europe
Country Czech Republic
Capital City Prague
Nearest Airport Vaclav Havel Airport
Best Time to Visit March to May
Safety for Travelers High
Travel Tip Use Public Transport



The Best Aspects of Prague’s Old Town Square

Astronomical Clock Tower

Installed in 1410, the astronomical clock tower in the Old Town Square of Prague is the oldest astronomical clock in working condition. The clock functions as a sort of mini-planetarium that depicts the medieval perception of the universe with intricate sculptures to depict the same. It shows the time in 3 different places along with the relative positions of the sun, the moon and planets. The clock is an important cultural symbol for the citizens of Prague who believe that the longevity of the clock will determine the long life of the city. It would be useful to hire a guide to explain the mechanisms of its working and the symbolic meanings of the sculptures. The top the clock tower also provides a panoramic view of the Old Town square, a must see as the day wanes out.

Old Town Square

Astronomical Clock Tower – The fascinating mechanical performer. Photography by Mal

 

Old Town Square

600 years and still standing. Photography by Christine Peterson

St Nicholas Church

St Nicholas Church is one of the oldest churches in Prague and is said to be constructed somewhere in the 1270s. This Baroque church in the Old Town Square of Prague with splendid interiors inspired from the Invalides of Paris, serves as a gorgeous place for classical concerts, especially operas. The church frequently hosts classical orchestras, organ concerts, ensembles, choirs along with special Easter and Christmas concerts. Most of the artists who perform at the church are also performers at The State Opera and the National Theatre, guaranteeing excellent musical quality. With a large looming chandelier and a space that reverberates sound, a transcendental musical experience is guaranteed.

Old Town Square

St. Nicholas Church. Photography by Amanda Jona

 

Old Town Square

St. Nicholas is a Baroque church, the interior of which was inspired by the chapel of St. Louis-des-invalides in Paris. Photography by Aliaksei Yauseichyk

Medieval cuisines

Head over to Medieval Tavern or Café Mozart at the Old Town Square for authentic Prague cuisine along with some great coffee and cakes. Medieval Tavern serves a hearty 5 course meal with some great Czech beer while Café Mozart, right across the astronomical clock serves their food alternatively with Jazz nights and Mozart nights. Grilled sausages with a variety of sauces is commonplace in the Old Town Square, and is quite a filling snack too. Among the Czech food that is available both as street food and in fine dining restaurants, don’t forget to try palacinky (sweet pancakes) or at times filled with meat of your choice. Chlebicky or open-faced sandwiches is a delicious breakfast item, Bistro Sisters serves them best. Don’t forget to grab some delicious gelato for dessert from the umpteen dessert shops of the square, it’s a whole new dimension of richness.

Old Town Square

An after dusk view of Old Town Square from Cafe Mozart. Photography by Anna

 

Old Town Square

Get high on calories at Cafe Mozart. Photography by Stephen Foskett.

Classical Strains

Music, especially classical, is indispensable to Prague whether it is in churches, restaurants, theatres, train stations, streets or bridges. Cathedrals serve as classical concert venues, train stations keep grand pianos where common commuters often stop by and play while the streets become stages for fun-filled orchestras. From the State Opera to Charles Bridge to the Prague Castle or The Old Town square, your promenade through the historic places is never without a background score. The classicism of Prague is not just from its medieval buildings, its also from the tunes that will stay with you long after you leave the place. Be sure to check out the Prague Fun Fair Orchestra near the Prague Castle or catch a classical concert at Municipal House or spend the night at a jazz club that the  city has in abundance.

Old Town Square

The Fun Fair Orchestra. Photography by Alicia Gutierrez

 

Old Town Square

A musician playing at Prague City Centre. Photography by Gijs Huitink

Charles Bridge

The scenic 14th century bridge across the Vltava river is lined with gothic monuments and baroque statues all along its length while the bridge itself serves as a hub of activity for painters, musicians and souvenir sellers. The most famous monument on the bridge is St John of Nepomuk. Legends say that if you touch the bronze plate near the statue, you will return to Prague someday. The bridge, a 2 minute walk from the Old Town Square happens to be the most visited tourist site in Prague. Least crowded at dawn and possibly most scenic in the night, the bridge connects the old town to the side of the Prague Castle, another obvious and compulsory visit.

Old Town Square

A View of historic Charles Bridge from afar. Photography by Martina Maslejova

 

Old Town Square

Close View of Charles Bridge. Photography by Cenk Gokalp

Budget Tidbits for Old Town Square

Airfare Rs. 50,000 (roundtrip)
Budget Stays Approx Rs. 500

Hotel Fontana, Hotel Emma, Hotel Rosemary, Hotel Mango, Prague Hostel Na Smetance

Places to Eat Rilke restaurant ( try goulash & apple strudel), Field restaurant( fine dining, try degustation menu), Sad Man’s Tongue Bistro (bourbon chipotle burger, cheese stuffed onion rings) & Bistro Sisters (open faced sandwiches)
Overall expenses for a 3 day stay including food, transport, accommodation & miscellaneous aspects. Rs 5000

Old Town Square

Bubbles blown into this beautiful historic place. Photography by Ishq

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shravani Bheema is a student of English Literature from Bangalore. An ardent lover of nature, she  can be found seeking quietude in corners and canopied streets of Bangalore that the city provides in secret abundance. Her biannual family trips since childhood have influenced what she seeks and finds in travelling along with a great interest for bird-watching. It’s always mountains over beaches and forest guesthouses over luxury resorts. She finds joy in experiencing a place as authentically as possible, and that she believes can never come through environments that are altered too much. Arundhati Roy, Samuel T Coleridge, Neil Gaiman and Paulo Coelho are among her most read authors.

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