The "Stare Mesto" which means Old Town is the part that is surrounded by the roads Revolucni, Na Prikope and Narodni. These roads have been made at the place where the citywalls used to stand. At the leftside the quarter is bordered by the Vltava river. This part of Prague was founded in 1230 around the Old Citysquare. This was during the period of King Vaclav I.
Throughout the centuries this part always has been the center of the city, and later of the country and for a period even Europe. Kings were inaugurated here, criminals and betrayers were executed, knights held their tournaments here. Although the power was later centred in the Prague Castle, up the hill, the Old Town stayed the centre for the public.
Until today it still is like that. The narrow streets of Stare Mesto have more old buildings then you can imagine and there is always something to see or do.
The Clementinum is the second biggest building structure in Prague (No. 1 is the Hradcany castle). It was built since 1578 by the Jesuits. For the Clementinum a Dominican convent and a whole town district with thirty something townhouses, 3 churches and gardens was torn down. It was the time of Anti-Reformation, and goal was to re-establish Catholizism as leading religion in Prague. The Clementinum became what we would call a "marketing" centre in our days.
Result was a huge architectural structure with 5 courtyards, some churches and chapels, a magnificent Baroque library, an observatory. One of the highlights is the mirror chapel decorated with stucco works, gold and frescos. This hall is used for exhibits - please watch out for ads in front of the Clementinum entrance.
Guided tours are available daily, but no photography is allowed.
A very nice place is the Tyn courtyard - located right behind the Tyn church. This courtyard is surrounded by nice old townhouses, among them a wonderful Renaissance palazzo with sgraffito decorated facade and tuscan style loggia.
Several cute shops, galleries and restaurants (see my restaurant tips) add to the charm of this quiet oasis in the otherwise busy old town.
Prague's Old Town is one of best-preserved old towns I've seen in my life. It's an incredibly beautiful place. Here are just some things you will find there - a list of all would even be too much for a book!
1. Staromestske namesti - the central square of the old town. It's a wide open square surrounded by beautiful art nouveau and older houses. There are two churches located at the ends of the square. One of them features a clock with little figures walking by when the bells chime.
2. The Jewish Quarter - Visiting Prague is not complete without visiting the Jewish Quarter, its synagogues and its old cemetery. History is alive in this area and it's very interesting to learn about Jewish life in Prague. Be careful not to meet the Golem....
3. The Lesser Town - officially not a part of Prague's Old Town, this area is located on the other side of the river. It's not as crowded and of course not as old, but well worth visiting.
4. The Narrow alleys - just a short tip here: Get lost in the labyrinth of narrow alleys and ways... You won't regret it!
The Old Town is exactly what it sounds like. It is the old city of Prague. The narrow streets and small quarters really take you back to what life in this area was like hundreds of years ago. The main meeting point is the Old Town Square which has St Nicholas' Church and the Astronomical Clock
This part of Prague has been around since 1254. It’s a great place to start, as a tourist, and most of the roads go off from the Old Town Square. There are a lot of souvenir and crystal shops in this area, as well as some of the main attractions of Prague, such as the Jewish Quarter, the astronomical clock, and Our Lady of Tyn church. Be aware that if you plan on eating here, or shopping for that matter, prices may be a tad higher than other places. Beautiful Renaissance architecture abounds.
Impressive Hercules statues greet you at the entrance of this baroque palace. It is worth looking inside, too, because the palace has been beautifully restored and there are many more statues to be seen and a gorgeous ceiling fresco over the main staircase. The palace is open for concerts and exhibitions.
What is really neat about the Old Town Square and most of Prague is that there are little things to see everywhere you go. This Gothic door was designed by Matthias Rejsek as the entrance to the Town Hall. The interior of this entrance hall has been decorated in mosaics done by a Czech painter known as Mikulas Ales.
Visible on the large ornate window of the old council hall is the coat of Arms for Prague. There is an inscription which reads-"Prague, Head of the Kingdom". The coat of arms was adopted to stand for the entire city in 1784.
A little to the west of the old town square, this 14th century chapel was the center of the Hussites and their reformation in Prague. In 1391 the Reformers were given permission to build a chapel here and conduct sermons in Czech instead of Latin. The was a simple design and could hold almost 3000 people. The preacher Jan Milic z Kromerize began preaching here in 1391 until 1394. Jan Hus began his preaching here in 1402-1413. Most of the chapel was converted by the Jesuits when Protestantism was outlawed in 1620. The building was destroyed in 1786 and then later rebuilt after WWII. The church you can see today is not the original but parts of the original structure can still be seen, some of the interior rooms and windows are said to be original. It is a cultural monument and holds various exhibits. There is a memorial celebration on the night of July 5th, the anniversary of Jan Hus's execution.
It is 30KCZ to enter and is open from about 9am-5pm.
This is a very ornate concert hall. It has been done in an Art-Nouveau style and is very nice to look at. It stands on the old site of the Royal Palace before the kings moved to Prague Castle in 1483. The structure was used as a seminary and military college until it was torn down in the early 1900's. The present day building was created as a joint artistic effort during the Czech National Revival. Politically used as the stage to announce the independent state of Czechoslovakia in 1918, the house is now used as a concert venue. The Prague Spring music festival is held here on 12 May and there are numerous concerts given in its many halls year round. Seats can cost up to 1200KCZ depending on the concert.
There is a cafe/restaurant on the bottom floor and tours can be arranged. The gallery is open for exhibitions only from 10am-6pm.
One of the original entrances to old town in the 11th century, the Powder Gate (Prasna Brana) was begun in 1475 by King Vladislav II. It wasn't intended to be a defensive stronghold. It was decoratied to add to the already beautified city and was based on the Old Town Bridge tower designed by Peter Parler. It has been named the powder gate because of the use of it as a storage facility in the 17th century. Most of the sculputres on the gate were destroyed or removed during Prussian occupation. Designer Josef Mocker rebuilt the gate and added the gothic decoration you can see today. You can also go inside the gate and look from its gallery across the city. There is also a small exhibit.
It is about 30KCZ to enter and is only open from April-October from about 10am-6pm.