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Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Square)
Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Square) Review
This "square"—more of a rectangle, actually—was first laid out by Charles IV in 1348, and began its existence as a horse market at the center of the New Town. Today, it functions as the commercial heart of the city center and is far brasher and more modern than the Old Town Square. Throughout much of Czech history, Wenceslas Square has served as the focal point for public demonstrations and celebrations. It was here in the heady days of November 1989 that some 500,000 people gathered to protest the policies of the then-communist regime. After a week of demonstrations, the government capitulated without a shot fired or the loss of a single life. After that, the first democratic government in 40 years (under playwright-president Václav Havel) was swept into office. This peaceful transfer of power is referred to as the "Velvet Revolution" (the subsequent "Velvet Divorce" from Slovakia took effect in 1993).
Grandhotel Evropa. At No. 25, the Grandhotel Evropa is an art nouveau gem, with elegant stained glass and mosaics in the café. Note in particular the ornate sculpture work of two figures supporting a glass egg on top of the building and the exterior mural. In 1906, when the hotel opened, this was a place for the elite; now the dilapidated rooms reflect more a sense of sadly faded grandeur that, thankfully, hasn't extended to the public spaces. Vaclavske nám. 25, 110 00. 224–215–387. www.evropahotel.cz. Line A or B: Můstek.
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