Old Town Square in Prague
Old Town Square is the oldest and most important square of the historical Prague. It is surrounded by historical buildings such as the Old Town City Hall with the famous Astronomical Clock, St. Nicholas Church, Church of Our Lady before Tyn, and many houses and palaces of various architectural styles and rich history. It has been a centre of Prague Old Town since the middle ages, when it was a market place at the crossing of European merchants´ roads.
The first houses on the Old Town Square were built in 12th and 13th century. Some of the houses still have their Romanesque or Gothic foundations, basements or ground floors. The Old Town City Hall was built in 14th century and the Church of Our Lady before Tyn a little later. The Old Town Square became the economic and political center of Prague.
Coronation parades used to go through the Old Town Square to the Prague Castle since 1311. Tragic events, such as executions, took place there as well. One of the turning-points of Czech history, the execution of 27 leaders of the rebellion against Emperor Matthias, took place there in 1621. You can see 27 crosses in the pavement by the Old Town City Hall, as well as symbols of swords and a thorn crown, commemorating this event.
Some objects that used to stand at the Old Town Square in the past, can´t be seen there anymore, for example the Marian column from 1650. It was the second oldest column in Europe, but it was pulled down in 1918. You can still see the Prague meridian in the paving of the square. It indicates the place, where the former Marian column used to cast its shadow at noon. There is an inscription in Czech and Latin language, saying that time used to be measured according to the meridian. The monument of the Protestant reformer Jan Hus, burnt as a heretic in 1415, is situated in the middle of the Old Town Square since 1915.
Many important political events and demonstrations, that changed the Czech history in the 20th century, took place at the square. People still gather at the Old Town Square at special occasions. Traditional and popular Christmas markets also take place there every year.