Prague Feature


A Walk through Old Town's Greatest Hits

The "Royal Way"

Start on the perimeter of Old Town by turning up onto Na příkopě. A short detour down the first street on your left, Havířská ulice, takes you to the 18th-century Stavovské divadlo (Estates Theater).

Return to Na příkopě, turn left, and continue to the street's end. Na příkopě ends abruptly at náměstí Republiky (Republic Square). Two stunning buildings, constructed hundreds of years apart, anchor the area. Centuries of grime have not diminished the majesty of the GothicPrašná brána, with its stately spires looming above the square. Adjacent to this tower, the rapturous art nouveau Obecní dům concert hall and municipal center looks like a brightly decorated confection.

Walk through the archway of the massive Prašná brána and down the formal Celetná ulice, the first leg of the "Royal Way." The cubist building at Celetná No. 34 is Dům U černé Matky boží, the House of the Black Madonna (look for the miniature Madonna placed on the corner of the building).

The Heart of Old Town

After a few blocks, Celetná opens onto the justly famous Staroměstské náměstí, the beating heart of Old Town with dazzling architecture on all sides. On the east side of the square, the double-spire church Kostel Panny Marie před Týnem rises from behind a row of patrician houses. To the immediate left of this, at No. 13, is Dům U Kamenného zvonu (House at the Stone Bell), a baroque town house that has been stripped down to its original Gothic elements. Next door, at No. 12, stands the gorgeous pink-and-ocher Palác Kinských, considered the most prominent example of late baroque–rococo in the area. At this end of the square, you can't help noticing the gigantic expressive Jan Hus monument.

Beyond the Jan Hus monument is the Gothic Staroměstská radnice, with its impressive 200-foot tower that gives the square gravitas. As the hour approaches, join the people milling below the tower's 15th-century astronomical clock for a brief but curiously compelling spectacle. The square's second church is the baroque Kostel svatého Mikuláše.

Toward the Clementinum

Turn left and continue along U Radnice proper a few yards until you come to Malé náměstí, a mini-square with arcades on one side. Look for tiny Karlova ulice, which begins in the southwest corner of the square, and take another quick right to stay on it (watch the signs—this medieval street often confounds visitors). The České muzeum výtvarných umění (Czech Museum of Fine Arts) attracts tried-and-true fans of 20th-century Czech art, but you may find yourself lured away by the exotic Clam-Gallas palác, at Husova 20.

A block north, the street opens onto Mariánské náměstí, where you'll discover the entrance to the Clementinum, a grouping of historic buildings once used as a Jesuit stronghold.

Walks - Map_Chart

Updated: 2014-02-13

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