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Equestrian Sculpture Of Saint Wenceslas (I&V)
Equestrian sculpture of St Vaclav (St Wenceslas) and four Saints – St Adalbert of Prague, St Ludmila, St Prokop and St Agnes "Czech", is the most famous work of Josef Vaclav Myslbek, founder of the modern Czech sculpting style. Creating of this sculpture lasted for more than 20 years, and since it had been located in the center of Wenceslas Square it had become one of Prague's most recognizable landmarks and a symbol of Czech statehood. The inscription on the base of the sculpture, designed by architect Alois Dryak, says: "Svaty Vaclave, vevodo ceske zeme, knize nas, nedej zahynouti nam ni budoucim" ("Saint Wenceslas, duke of the Czech land, prince of ours, do not let perish us nor our descendants").
- Arts and Culture
My friend Kristi and her husband have left Prague today, destined for Austria. Without their dinner-planning expertise, I'm at a loss as to where to eat my last meal in Prague. I wander the streets aimlessly for a few hours, looking for a restaurant's address that I had jotted on a piece of paper before giving up on it and tossing the paper in a garbage can. It's 11:00 PM and most of the restaurants are finished serving food now anyway; but I'm still starving.
I find myself in Wenceslas Square and approach a sausage stand--I've been eyeballing these sausages for days and was dying to try one. I order a "sausage on a bun" and a Diet Pepsi and sit down at a nearby table. No sooner have I taken my seat than I'm approached by three very large, young, and tough looking hobos--one of which is actually wearing an eye patch. "Cripes! They look like pirates!," I think to myself, "This is going to be interesting."
The largest guy, who is obviously the gang leader, says to me, "Excuse me, sir--could you spare some change or a cigarette?"
For personal safety reasons, I decide that I'm not really in a position to decline them. But I then do something which surprises even me... I pull out my pack of cigarettes and say, "Here--take two each." I then produce a 200 koruna ($10 USD) note but before passing it to the three thugs I ask, "Would you guys do me a big favour?" They look baffled but nod in agreement. "Could you keep people away from me while I eat my dinner?" The largest one says, "Definitely, that will not be a problem." I pass them the note and they walk a hundred feet away--back to the shadowy spot where they were standing before I showed up on the scene.
Wenceslas Square is really just a slightly filthy shopping street with a few department stores, some restaurants and casinos, a small flower-bed, and a big, bronze statue of St. Wenceslas on horseback. It also has lots of aggressive panhandlers, homeless people, and a few prostitutes--especially after darkness falls. It's not somewhere I would normally choose to hang-out and eat because it's too busy. ...A bit like having a meal in New York's Times Square or on Toronto's Yonge Street. There are far more appropriate and quaint places to eat in this city.
Wenceslas Square does have an impressive history though. Founded in 1348 as a horse market as part of a plan by King Charles IV (Wenceslas), the square has been the site of many important events; including the mass demonstrations during the "Velvet Revolution" in 1989 which eventually led to the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia.
As I eat my sausage, which looked fantastic but in reality is dry and chewy, I watch with amusement as my band of hired pirates actually keep up their end of our bargain. They've been darting in and out of their hiding spot to intercept panhandlers from approaching me. One old woman, dressed in grey rags, is angrily yelling at then--she can't understand why they won't let her near me.
As I get up to leave, the three thugs give me a toothless grin and wave goodbye.
The next morning I wake up with the worst heartburn of my life! It's excruciatingly painful and lasts a full two days afterwards. Avoid street meat in Prague at all costs!
The Spiritual Center of Modern Prague
Wenceslas Square has been the business and cultural center of Prague's New Town for 600+ years with hotels, banks, businesses, independent and department stores, museums, and theatres. Originally a horse market and center of the New Town created by Charles IV in the 14th Century when Prague was the capitol of the Holy Roman Empire. Its current architectural style is varied, dating from a reconstruction of the 19th Century.
At the head of the square is the pictured statue of St. Wenceslas, mounted on his horse, the patron saint of Bohemia. He is a national hero, having been murdered by"evil brother" Borislav more than 1000 years ago. The statue is by Josef Myslbek, begun in the 1887 and finished in 1924. At the base, other important Czech saints include St. Adalbert, St. Ludmila, and St. Agnes. Just below this dominating statue are two smaller memorials. One honors those who died during the Communist occupation. The second honors a philosophy student who, in 1968 self immolated to protest the Communist occupation. When Jan Palach died several days later, his funeral attracted 800,000 mourners. The Velvet Revolution, which led to the end of Communist rule in 1989, was centered at his memorial.
Few site are more important to today's Czech Republic than this square. In 1918Czechoslovakian independence was declared from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Nazis used this square for their demonstrations. In 1969, the Czech ice hockey team defeated the Russian team in a championship and the celebration of over 150,000 was again centered here. The square can hold over 400,000 and is sacred ground.
There are many hotels and restaurants as well as theaters and museums near the Square, including the famous Art Nouveau Hotel Europa, but for the out of country tourist, it appeared mostly as a middle level shopping mall and home to some fast food restaurants. Its major importance to a visitor is the realization of the world-changing events which have ocurred here.
Located just off Wenceslas Square, the Lucerna Passage is an Art Nouveau shopping arcade.
There is a rather bizarre statue hanging from the roof in the middle of the passage - it is an upside down statue of Wenceslas on a horse...check out the horse's tongue sticking out. Bizarre.
Rather dark and gloomy, there is however a certain charm to the arcade and some interesting shops can be found here. There is a good wine shop (Cellarius) (just near the statue), and a very cool Art Nouveau bar on the 1st floor.
- Historical Travel
- Women's Travel
Wenceslas Square is the main street of Prague's commercial center. It is lined with hotels, shops, and restaurants. I really have mixed feelings about Wenceslas Square. There is much to see there but some of it is a little on the seedy side. You go from Casino's and clubs with dancing girls to fancy hotels and restaurants. We had one meal at a restaurant on Wenceslas Square and it was probably the worst meal we had in Prague. It was nice to visit and see the monument but not someplace I would spend a great deal of time unless you wanted to do some major shopping.
Memorial to the Victims of Communism
Just a few meters in front of the St. Wenceslas statue is this memorial. It would be very easy to miss this one if you are not aware of it. This memorial is dedicated to those who were killed during the Communist period in Prague. Included on the plaque is a picture of Jan Palach, who at the age of 20, set filre to himself in January 1969 to protest the Soviet invasion of his country. There were over 800,000 people who came to his funeral. Wenceslas Square has been the scene of many protests and demonstrations.
SAINT WENCESLAS --- ST. VACLAV
The Huge statue of SAINT WENCESLAS or St. Vaclav is located at the top of the Hill overlooking the Square with the National Museum in the background.
A tenth century Duke of Bohemia, Wenceslas is considered a symbol of Czech Nationalism.
I debated whether or not to use this accompanying picture of St. Wenceslas as it was so dark. But actually the silouette of the King on his bronze steed is better than a clearer picture I had with the King surrounded by tacky scaffolding. Actually the whole monument was covered in tacky scaffolding which was very disappointing.
- Family Travel
Meet me at the Statue...
The Square, Vaclavske Namesti, is the heart of city life. A broad boulevard about half a mile long, everything passes through it on the day to day grind. It was here in 1989 that a quarter of a million Czechs gathered to usher out the Communist regime. Near the steps of the Museum lies a memorial, looking like a half-submerged headstone. This marks where 'Torch Number One' Jan Palach set himself alight in protest of Soviet rule.
Now the square is buzzing, alive, vivid, vulgar, flanked by fast food restaraunts, fashion boutiques, change counters, populated by people of every nationality, as well as the beggars, hare krishnas, prostitutes and ticket touts. Yet beneath all this post-communist bedlam, sitting on the steps of the museum with St.Wenceslas marching stridently above it all, it's still possible to sense that resonance...this is the place where it all happens.
Wenceslas Square pretty much sums up Prague as a whole - that peculiar combination of beauty and sordidness, majesty and tack.
- Budget Travel
Wenceslas Square (Vaclavske Namesti)
Wenceslas Square is not so much a square...more a wide street, lined with shops and restaurants.
The best part of the square for me was the National Museum that sits at the top of the square. Pop your head in the door to see the impressive marble staircase.
You will also come across the Communist Memorial, found in front of the St Wenceslas Statue, and also the impressive Art Nouveau building of the Hotel Evropa.
Although not the grand square I was imagining, there are some interesting things to see lining the square (including a department store with clean toilets!!) and some good shopping to be had, in particular a 5 story shoe shop!
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
Statue of St. Vaclav (Wenceslas)
Wenceslas Square is the main street in Prague's commercial district. Lined with hotels, casino's, restaurants and clubs with dancing girls the square gives many different images. The huge statue of St. Wenceslas is located at the top of hill on Wenceslas Square. Wenceslas was the assassinated tenth century Duke of Bohemia. He is now considered one of the symbols of Czech nationalism.
The statue of Wenceslas was created by the artist J.V. Myslbek. It was started in 1884 and completely 36 years later.
Wenceslas Square (vaclavski namesti)
One of the famous squares in Prague, Wenceslas Square is the imposing square that can hold about 40,000 people. Wenceslas Square is 70 meters long, 60 meters wide, a relatively large public space. Here they had the famous demonstrations against the communist government. What is now Wenceslas Square used to be a horse market in the Middle Ages.
At the top of the Square is the equestrian statue of St Wenceslas, the patron saint of Bohemia. Wenceslas, also known as the good king Wenceslas, was named king after his death in 935 AD. During his lifetime he was Duke of Bohemia. He was sainted for his contribution to bringing Christianity to the Czech lands. Legend has it that he was murdered by his brother. Behind the statue is the imposing building of the National Museum.
If you look at the statue I found it interesting that King Wenceslas was surrounded not by fierce looking warriors but instead by contemplative monks (or priests). These figures at the base of the equestrian statue represent the four Czech patron saints- St Ludmilla, St Prokop, St. Agnes and St. Adalbert. I thought to myself you don't really see that as often, most of the time great leaders are portrayed more as great warriors or conquerors. Just a thought.
The Square is at the edge of the Old Town. Lots of decent shopping, I especially found some real nice bookstores. At the bottom of the square you just follow the crowds and you will end up at Old Town Square.
- Historical Travel
The Grand Hotel Europa, built between 1903-06 still retains its elegant, although somewhat jaded, art nouveau charm. The interior bars and large mirrors are still the originals and its facade has also survived.
Worthwhile popping in for a coffee here and letting your wind wander back to those days.
The former horse market of Prague is now the modern centre of Prague's Wencelas Square in the new town. This oblong shaped "Square" has witnessed the most dramatic events of Czech modern history in their battle against communism.
Just below the National Museum at the top end is the monument to the the czech patron saint, St Wenceslas, on a horse. He is surrounded by 4 other patron saints. The monument of the saint who led the czech's to christianity was the natural focus for demonstrations.
As we leave the Jewish Quarter, we now head for WENCESLAS SQUARE the Heart of modern Prague and the place where the Czechs love to gather.
Wenceslas Square or Vaclavske Namesti, which was originally a Horse Market, is lined with Hotels ( including the famous Europa Hotel ),restaurants and specialty shops.The rectangular-shaped Wenceslas Square is the main commercial district of Prague.
It was here that the first mass protest of the Velvet Revolution took place in November, 1989, leading to the downfall of the Communist Regime.
With its beautiful landscaped gardens and plenty of benches to sit on, it's a great place to relax and people watch, which Hans and I really enjoyed.
- Family Travel
Memorial to the victims of Communism
On Jan 16, 1969 Jan Palach, a university student, set himself on fire to protest the Soviet invasion (of 1968). His funeral resulted in a giant protest against the occupation.
The cross was placed at the spot were Palach supposedly fell..after the end of the communist regime in 1989. It is a very small memorial directly in front of the statue of King Wenceslas.
I was surprised that there wasn't a larger memorial of this kind in Prague...did anyone else feel that way?
- Historical Travel
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