top of page

Prague - Old Town, New Town & Jewish Quarter

Updated: Feb 26

This is the third, and last of my blog posts showcasing Prague.


Old Town (Staré Mesto)


As the name implies, this is the oldest part of Prague and was settled in medieval times. Now it is a lively cobblestoned hub with landmark attractions such as the medieval Astronomical Clock and the Gothic Church of Our Lady Before Týn, on Old Town Square. The Rudolfinum concert hall hosts classical music, while the Estates Theatre stages ballet and opera.


Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) is an historic square in the Old Town quarter of Prague. It is located between Wenceslas Square and Charles Bridge. The square features buildings belonging to various architectural styles


Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí)
Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí)

The square's center is home to a statue of religious reformer Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake in Konstanz for his beliefs.


Jan Hus Statue in Old Town Square
Jan Hus Statue in Old Town Square

Old Town Square Christmas Markets


At Christmas and Easter, markets are held on the square; they resemble medieval markets. A tall decorated tree and a musical stage are set up. While you can find some nice souvenirs at the stalls, the markets are about more than shopping. There is all manner of local food and drink to sample, much of it prepared and cooked in front of you. Most impressive of all is the mighty 19m tall Christmas tree erected at the Old Town Square.


Old Town Square Christmas Market (Vánoční trhy) viewed from Town Hall Tower
Old Town Square Christmas Market (Vánoční trhy) viewed from Town Hall Tower

Prague’s Old Town Hall, founded in 1338, is a mixture of medieval buildings acquired over different points in time.


Old Town Hall (on right)
Old Town Hall (on right)

Today, it serves as main tourist information office and of course offers a tour of the interior buildings and you can climb the tower for wonderful views of the Square.


Old Town Hall Tower
Old Town Hall Tower

Prague's Astronomical Clock


The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest clock still operating. This private planetarium is mounted on the southern wall of the Old Town Hall.


Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Hall
Astronomical Clock on the Old Town Hall

The clock mechanism has three main components — At the top of the clock, the Walk of the Apostles rotate through every hour (like a cuckoo clock) and the figure of Death, represented by a skeleton, strikes the time.


Astronomical Clock - Walk of the Apostles
Astronomical Clock - Walk of the Apostles

Astronomical Clock - Death (as a Skeleton)
Astronomical Clock - Death (as a Skeleton)

In the middle, the astronomical dial, represents the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details;


Astronomical Dial of the clock
Astronomical Dial of the clock

And at the bottom, a calendar dial with medallions representing the months. According to local legend, the city will suffer if the clock is neglected and the only hope of reprieve is the birth of a boy on New Year’s night.


Calendar Dial of the Clock
Calendar Dial of the Clock

Astronomical Clock - Sun and Moon Dial (middle)
Astronomical Clock

Church of Our Lady Before Týn


This Church's distinctive twin Gothic spires make the it an unmistakable Old Town landmark and can be seen from all over Prague.


Church of Our Lady Before Týn in Old Town Square
Church of Our Lady Before Týn in Old Town Square

The church's two towers are 80 m high, and each tower's spire is topped by eight smaller spires in two layers of four.


Church of Our Lady Before Týn at Christmas Markets
Church of Our Lady Before Týn at Christmas Markets

Church of Our Lady Before Týn (in background)
Church of Our Lady Before Týn (in background)

Church of Saint Nicholas


Another Church in Old Town Square is Church of Saint Nicholas (Staré Město). This is the second of 3 Churches in Prague dedicated to St. Nicholas!


Church of Saint Nicholas (Staré Město)
Church of Saint Nicholas (Staré Město)

Church of Saint Nicholas (Staré Město) View from Old Town Hall Tower
Church of Saint Nicholas (Staré Město) View from Old Town Hall Tower

Jewish Quarter (Josefov)


Many cities in Europe used to have, or still have, Jewish quarters. In Prague, it is located in and surrounded by Old Town.


The Jewish Quarter is a definite must see because it is an UNESCO World Heritage site. It is not only as a reminder of a tragic part of the world’s history, but also for its undeniable beauty and charm.


Jewish Quarter (Josefov)
Jewish Quarter (Josefov)

Paris Street


Connecting the Old Town Square with the Jewish Quarter, Paris Street (Pařížská) is a tree-lined high-end shopping paradise. Most of the quarter was demolished between 1893 and 1913 as part of an initiative to model the city on Paris. What was left were only six synagogues, the old cemetery, and the Old Jewish Town Hall.




The Old-New Synagogue is the oldest surviving synagogue in Europe. It’s one of the earliest Gothic buildings in Prague, built in 1270. It is also the oldest surviving medieval synagogue of twin-nave design.




There are several free walking tours you can take of the Jewish Quarter. Definitely try one - you won't be disappointed!


New Town (Nové Město)


This area is noticeably different than the other historic areas of Prague. Not only due to its architecture, but also its size. It is the largest and newest part of Prague.


The Powder Tower or Powder Gate (Prašná brána) is a Gothic tower in Prague, Czech Republic. It is one of the original city gates. It separates the Old Town from the New Town. The Powder Tower is one of the original 13 city gates in Old Town, Prague, Construction began in 1475. The tower was intended to be an attractive entrance into the city, instead of a defensive tower.


Powder Tower or Powder Gate (Prašná brána)
Powder Tower or Powder Gate (Prašná brána)

Municipal House (Obecní dům) is a civic building that houses Smetana Hall, a celebrated concert venue, in Prague. It is located next to the Powder Gate in the center of the city. The Municipal House was the location of the Czechoslovak declaration of independence. The roof of the building was the location for the INXS music video for their huge hit New Sensation.


Municipal House (Obecní dům)
Municipal House (Obecní dům)

Wenceslas Square


Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) is the heart of New Town. It doesn’t look like your typical European square, rather it looks like a long broad boulevard, this square was originally built as a horsemarket and is now a centre of commerce. Many historical moments in the country’s history took place here, including the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, and the anticommunist protests in 1989. At the top of the square sits the National Museum, built in 1880s.


Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí)
Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí)

"Good King Wenceslas" is a Christmas carol that tells a story of a Bohemian king going on a journey and braving harsh winter weather to give alms to a poor peasant on the Feast of Stephen (December 26, the Second Day of Christmas).


Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) Christmas Market
Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) Christmas Market

The legend is based on the life of the historical Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia and there is a Market in his honour in the fall.


Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) Christmas Market
Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) Christmas Market


Dancing House


One of the most recognizable landmarks in New Town is the Dancing House. The Canadian-born architect Frank Gehry designed this office building and nicknamed it ‘Fred and Ginger’ as he thought the two glass towers resembled two dancers.


The Dancing House
The Dancing House

Trdelník


I can't finish out this series of blog posts on Prague without sharing one of my favourite parts of Prague...my daily, yes daily, treat - Trdelník!


Trdelník is a kind of spit cake. It is made from rolled dough that is wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with sugar and walnut mix. A variation of trdelník with an ice cream filling was popularized by Prague cafés.


Cost: 40 koronas (just over $2 CAD)



Read more about Prague:




20-Minute Complementary Love to Explore Session


I’d love to chat with you! In your Love to Explore session, we will spend about 20 minutes on the phone talking about your travel dreams. I’ll share with you tips and ideas. You’ll leave our call inspired and excited about possibilities!


If you’re ready to plan your next great adventure, I’d love to help you get there! You can contact me by clicking below or emailing me (ExplorewithBrendaRowe@gmail.com) to book your 20-minute Love to Explore Session.


BONUSES


When you reach out to book your complimentary Love to Explore session, I’ll also send you my:

  • Ultimate Packing Checklist, and

  • Discover Your Travel Style Guide.

All FREE to help you plan your best vacation yet!


If you have any questions, please reach out Brenda@ExplorewithBrendaRowe.com




Comments


IMG_2249-Eraser_InPixio.jpg

Hi, thanks for dropping by!

As an avid explorer and Travel Agent, I hope to inspire you to travel and explore the world, or even explore just outside your own backyard!

I’d love to give you a complimentary Love to Explore vacation planning session.  We’ll spend about 20 minutes on the phone talking about your travel dreams and budget.  I’ll share with you tips and ideas and explain how the process works to book through me.  You’ll leave our call inspired and excited about possibilities!

 

If you’re ready to plan your next great adventure, I’d love to help you get there! You can contact me by clicking below or emailing 

(Brenda@ExplorewithBrendaRowe.com) to book your

20-minute Complementary Love to Explore Vacation Planning Session.

bottom of page