Old Town (Prague)

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Old Town Square in Prague Prague Old Town Square, Czech Republic - Oct 2010.jpg
Old Town Square in Prague

The Old Town of Prague (Czech : Staré Město pražské) is a medieval settlement of Prague, Czech Republic. It was separated from the outside by a semi-circular moat and wall, connected to the Vltava river at both of its ends. The moat is now covered up by the streets (from north to south-west) Revoluční, Na Příkopě, and Národní—which remain the official boundary of the cadastral community of Old Town. It is now part of Prague 1.

Czech language West Slavic language spoken in the Czech Republic

Czech, historically also Bohemian, is a West Slavic language of the Czech–Slovak group. Spoken by over 10 million people, it serves as the official language of the Czech Republic. Czech is closely related to Slovak, to the point of mutual intelligibility to a very high degree. Like other Slavic languages, Czech is a fusional language with a rich system of morphology and relatively flexible word order. Its vocabulary has been extensively influenced by Latin and German.

Prague Capital city of the Czech Republic

Prague is the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, the 14th largest city in the European Union and the historical capital of Bohemia. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of 2.6 million. The city has a temperate climate, with warm summers and chilly winters.

Czech Republic Country in Central Europe

The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name, Czechia, is a landlocked country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west, Austria to the south, Slovakia to the east and Poland to the northeast. The Czech Republic covers an area of 78,866 square kilometres (30,450 sq mi) with a mostly temperate continental climate and oceanic climate. It is a unitary parliamentary republic, with 10.6 million inhabitants; its capital and largest city is Prague, with 1.3 million residents. Other major cities are Brno, Ostrava, Olomouc and Pilsen. The Czech Republic is a member of the European Union (EU), NATO, the OECD, the United Nations, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe.


Notable places in the Old Town include Old Town Square and Astronomical Clock. The Old Town is surrounded by the New Town of Prague. Across the river Vltava connected by the Charles Bridge is the Lesser Town of Prague (Czech : Malá Strana). The former Jewish Town (Josefov) is located in the northwest corner of Old Town heading towards the Vltava.

Old Town Square square in the Old Town quarter of Prague

Old Town Square is a historic square in the Old Town quarter of Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. It is located between Wenceslas Square and Charles Bridge.

Prague astronomical clock Astronomical Clock in Prague, Czech Republic

The Prague Astronomical Clock, or Prague Orloj, is a medieval astronomical clock located in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

Vltava river in the Czech Republic

The Vltava is the longest river within the Czech Republic, running southeast along the Bohemian Forest and then north across Bohemia, through Český Krumlov, České Budějovice and Prague, and finally merging with the Elbe at Mělník. It is commonly referred to as the "Bohemian sea" and the "Czech national river".


Old Town with Charles Bridge in 1840 Frantisek Xaver Sandmann (Franz Xaver Sandmann), Karluv Most, pamatna lipa.jpg
Old Town with Charles Bridge in 1840
Charles Bridge connects Old Town with Lesser Town Charles Bridge (Karluv most), Vltava River, Prague, 2015.jpg
Charles Bridge connects Old Town with Lesser Town

From its early existence, around the 9th century, Staré Město was laid out of settlements which appeared from the spacious marketplace on the bank of Vltava. Records dating back to 1100 AD indicate that every Saturday a market was held on the marketplace, and large military gatherings also took place there. Thanks to trade the merchants of the area became rich, and when King Wenceslaus I of Bohemia gave them the privileges of township, the Town of Prague (Město pražské) was formed. According to ancient records, the city had around 13 gates, and a huge moat, providing strong defenses.

Wenceslaus I of Bohemia King of Bohemia

Wenceslaus I, called One-Eyed, was King of Bohemia from 1230 to 1253.

In 1338, the councilors of the Old Town of Prague were granted a permission by John of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia, to buy a magnificent patrician house from the family Volfin od Kamene (German : Wolfin von Stein) and rebuild it into their town hall – the still existing Old Town Hall. [1] [2] In the mid-14th century the importance of the Old Town of Prague increased rapidly. The city was prospering thanks to the development of trade and craftsmanship and became one of the most important Central European metropoles. Its brilliance and fame still further increased when the Bohemian king Charles IV became the Roman Emperor in 1355. Quite suddenly the attention of all medieval Europe was turned towards Prague, the residence of the head of the Holy Roman Empire. The original town hall was extended by a mighty square stone tower, a symbol of the power and pride of the town council of the first city in the Kingdom and Empire. In 1364 when it was completed the tower was the highest in the city. [2]

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Old Town Hall (Prague)

The Old Town Hall in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is one of the city's most visited monuments. It is located in Old Town Square.

Central Europe region of Europe

Central Europe is the region comprising the central part of Europe. It is said to occupy continuous territory that are otherwise conventionally Western Europe, Southern Europe, and Eastern Europe. The concept of Central Europe is based on a common historical, social and cultural identity. Central Europe is going through a phase of "strategic awakening", with initiatives such as the CEI, Centrope and the Visegrád Four. While the region's economy shows high disparities with regard to income, all Central European countries are listed by the Human Development Index as very highly developed.

After the city was expanded in the 14th century by Charles IV with the founding of the New Town of Prague, the moat and wall were dismantled.

Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor Holy Roman Emperor

Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, had a long and successful reign. Born Wenceslaus, he was the first King of Bohemia to become Holy Roman Emperor. He was a member of the House of Luxembourg from his father's side and the Czech House of Přemyslid from his mother's side; he emphasized the latter due to his lifelong affinity for the Czech side of his inheritance, and also because his direct ancestors in the Přemyslid line included two saints.

New Town, Prague quarter in the city of Prague in the Czech Republic

The New Town is a quarter in the city of Prague in the Czech Republic. New Town is the youngest and largest of the five independent towns that today comprise the historic center of modern Prague. New Town was founded in 1348 by Charles IV just outside the city walls to the east and south of the Old Town and encompassed an area of 7.5 km²; about three times the size of the Old Town. The population of Prague in 1378 was well over 40,000, perhaps as much as twice that, making it the 4th most populated city north of the Alps and, by area, the 3rd largest city in Europe. Although New Town can trace its current layout to its construction in the 14th century, only few churches and administrative buildings from this time survive. There are many secular and educational buildings in New Town, but also especially magnificent gothic and baroque churches. These nevertheless are not the main drawing points for tourists. New Town's most famous landmark is Wenceslas Square, which was originally built as a horsemarket and now functions as a center of commerce and tourism. In the 15th century, the Novoměstská radnice, or New Town Hall, was the site of the first of the three defenestrations of Prague.

Gallus Market (Havelske trziste) Bartonek rekruti.jpg
Gallus Market (Havelské tržiště)

In 1348, the University of Prague was founded by Charles IV. Since the late 14th century its main seat has been in Carolinum located in the Old Town of Prague. In 1357, Charles IV commenced building of a new bridge over the Vltava river connecting the Old Town with the Lesser Town of Prague. In 1391, the Bethlehem Chapel was built in the Old Town for sermons in the Czech language. The chapel played an important role in the Bohemian Reformation and Hussite movement. In 1402–1413 the church reformer Jan Hus preached there. [1]


Karolinum is a complex of buildings located in the Old Town of the City of Prague. Karolinum, the seat of the Charles University, is one of the oldest dormitories situated in Central Europe. The dormitory was named after the Emperor Charles IV.

Charles Bridge bridge in Prague

Charles Bridge is a historic bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague, Czech Republic. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century. The bridge replaced the old Judith Bridge built 1158–1172 that had been badly damaged by a flood in 1342. This new bridge was originally called Stone Bridge or Prague Bridge but has been "Charles Bridge" since 1870. As the only means of crossing the river Vltava (Moldau) until 1841, Charles Bridge was the most important connection between Prague Castle and the city's Old Town and adjacent areas. This "solid-land" connection made Prague important as a trade route between Eastern and Western Europe.

Bethlehem Chapel building in the Old Town of Prague

The Bethlehem Chapel is a medieval religious building in the Old Town of Prague, Czech Republic, notable for its connection with the origins of the Bohemian Reformation, especially with the Czech reformer Jan Hus.

In 1689, a great fire (called French fire) damaged a big part of the Old Town, including the Jewish Town. In 1784, the four towns of Prague were united into the Royal Capital City of Prague with a common administration.

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Jan Hus Czech linguist, religion writer, theologist, university educator and science writer

Jan Hus, sometimes Anglicized as John Hus or John Huss, also referred to in historical texts as Iohannes Hus or Johannes Huss, was a Czech theologian, philosopher, master, dean, and rector of the Charles University in Prague who became a church reformer, an inspirer of Hussitism, a key predecessor to Protestantism and a seminal figure in the Bohemian Reformation.

Malá Strana neighborhood of Prague

Malá Strana or more formally Menší Město pražské is a district of the city of Prague, Czech Republic, and one of its most historic regions.

Zbraslav Place in Czech Republic

Zbraslav is a municipal district and cadastral area of Prague. The southernmost district of Prague, it lies on the Vltava River in the national administrative district of Prague 16.

Davle Market town in Central Bohemian Region, Czech Republic

Davle is a market town in Central Bohemian Region, Czech Republic. It is located more than 24 km (15 mi) south of Prague at the confluence of the Vltava and Sázava rivers.

Na příkopě street in Prague

Na příkopě, informally also Na Příkopě, Na Příkopech or Příkopy, is a street in the center of Prague, Czech Republic, connecting Wenceslas Square with the Republic Square.

Kingdom of Bohemia Monarchy in Central Europe, predecessor of modern Czech Republic

The Kingdom of Bohemia, sometimes later in English literature referred to as the Czech Kingdom, was a medieval and early modern monarchy in Central Europe, the predecessor of the modern Czech Republic. It was an Imperial State in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Bohemian king was a prince-elector of the empire. The kings of Bohemia, besides Bohemia, also ruled the Lands of the Bohemian Crown, which at various times included Moravia, Silesia, Lusatia, and parts of Saxony, Brandenburg, and Bavaria.

Prague 1 Place in Czech Republic

Prague 1, formally the Prague 1 Municipal District, is a second-tier municipality in Prague. It is co-extensive with the national administrative district of the same name.

Prague 2 Place in Czech Republic

Prague 2, formally the Prague 2 Municipal District, is a second-tier municipality in Prague. It is co-extensive with the national administrative district of the same name.

Jan Milíč z Kroměříže was a Czech Catholic priest and the most influential preacher of the emerging Bohemian Reformation in the 14th century. Together with other Bohemian preachers and writers of that time, he paved in a certain sense the way for the reforming activity of Jan Hus.

History of Prague history of the capital city of the Czech Republic

The history of Prague covers more than a thousand years, during which time the city grew from the Vyšehrad Castle to the capital of a modern European state, the Czech Republic.

Jan Palach Square square in Prague

Jan Palach Square is a town square in the Old Town of Prague. It is located on right bank of the Vltava River next to the former Jewish Quarter. Unlike other squares in the Old Town, Jan Palach Square was created at the end of the 20th century, making it one of the newest ones.

Charles Square square

Charles Square is a city square in the New Town of Prague, Czech Republic. At roughly 80,550 m² it is one of the largest squares in the world and was the largest town square of the medieval Europe. Founded in 1348 as the main square of the New Town by Charles IV, it was known as Dobytčí trh from the 15th century and finally named after its founder in 1848. The central portion of the square was turned into a park in the 1860s.

Czech Gothic architecture architectural style of the Middle Ages in the area of modern-day Czechia

Czech Gothic architecture refers to the architectural period primarily of the Late Middle Ages in the area of the present-day Czech Republic.

Bohemian Reformation

The Bohemian Reformation, preceding the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, was a Christian movement in the late medieval and early modern Kingdom and Crown of Bohemia striving for a reform of the Roman Catholic Church. Lasting for more than 200 years, it had a significant impact on the historical development of Central Europe and is considered one of the most important religious, social, intellectual and political movements of the early modern period. The Bohemian Reformation produced the first national church separate from Roman authority, the first apocalyptic religious movement of the early modern period, and the first pacifist Protestant church.

New City Hall (Prague) Pragues city hall

Prague New City Hall, the central administrative building of the city of Prague, is located on the east side of Mariánské náměstí in the centre of the Old Town across from the Clementinum building complex. Since 1945, it has been the seat of Prague City Council and the Mayor of the City of Prague. The building contains formal residences for the mayor and other city officials.

Outline of Prague Overview of and topical guide to Prague

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Prague:


  1. 1 2 Prague: City Guidebook. Praha: Kartografie Praha. 2000. p. 6.
  2. 1 2 Míka, Alois (1968). Staroměstská radince a náměstí: Old Town Hall and Square: Altstädter Rathaus und Ring. Praha: Olympia. pp. 20–21.

See also

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Coordinates: 50°05′17″N14°25′20″E / 50.08806°N 14.42222°E / 50.08806; 14.42222