Any visitor to Prague ends up at least passing through Staroměstské náměstí (Old Town Square). It’s a piece of piece of Prague that I can’t help but love despite the crowds and overpriced cafes.
I know it’s really touristy, but make the effort to spend some real time there (try going early in the morning or at night). Find a spot to relax, tune out the crowds, and allow yourself to absorb this great square piece by piece, keeping in mind that it was a magnificent gathering place centuries before tourists ever heard of it. Here are some of the reasons I love it:
The Jan Hus monument reminds us of the history that has taken place in this very spot (this predecessor to the Protestant movement was burned at the stake in Old Town Square in 1415).
The huge square also reflects Prague’s rich architectural history: the Astronomical Clock, Old Town Hall Tower, and Church of Our Lady Before Týn date from medieval times, while other buildings show Renaissance decoration, and the imposing St. Nicholas Church is a masterpiece of the Baroque. Each of the buildings is wonderful in its own way.
Climb the tower for an amazing view of the surrounding buildings and streets. Go there at night to see the square beautifully illuminated. And take a second to be thankful that this square wasn’t destroyed through the years, especially in WW2, which destroyed so many other historical buildings in Europe.
The market stalls sell some goofy souvenirs, but there are some real Czech handicrafts sold there, too. One of my favorites are the hand-painted eggs, which come from the rural traditions of painting eggs for Easter.
One great thing about this square is that it’s very close to other must-see sights and cute streets to wander down. After you’ve had your fill, go off in any direction and keep exploring. There is much more to see just around the corner.
Finally, I haven’t done this myself, but I hear that the Christmas Market there is amazing. It runs daily in December and includes not only goods for sale, but also carols, lights, hot wine, and decorations. There are similar markets in other locations in the city center.
Do you love Old Town Square, too? Join in the conversation and share your impressions.