Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Old Market Square, Prague

The Old Market Square in Prague is the other major hub of tourist activity in the city (beside the Castle, of course). The area is ringed by several churches, many shops and restaurants, and the Old Town Hall with the Astronomical Clock. Many other entertainers, like musicians and other performers, come to the square to provide a good show and get good tips. We had a delightful time there.
The square is dominated by the Church of Our Lady before Tyn, which has a bunch of four-story buildings in front of it. Why they were built there is a mystery but the church is still quite beautiful and easily seen.

Tyn Church and Hus Statue in the Old Market Square

Better view of the Tyn Church

St. Nicholas Church is in the northwest corner of the plaza. Begun in 1732, the church has seen various uses through the years, including as a warehouse. It was restored around World War I and is currently a Czech Reformed Church. It is used for concerts, like many of the churches in the city. There's a larger and more famous St. Nicholas church across the river (which we would have visited if we'd stayed longer).

St. Nicholas Church

As we walked up to the Old Town Hall, we saw the crowds gathered. We realized the clock was about to chime, so we found good positions to watch. The clock is the famous Astronomical Clock. It tells the time of day, day of the week, month of the year, position of the sun and moon and constellations, and holidays of the Christian calendar. On the hour a skeletal figure of Death rings a bell and the twelve Apostles appear, looking out windows of the clock. The clock was begun by Mikulas of Kadane in 1410. Additions were made by Master Hanus in 1490, and legend has it that he was blinded after he finished the job so he wouldn't build another one.

Old Town Hall

Waiting for the hour to ring

The Astronomical Clock

Detail of the clock face

Random trumpeter at the top--there are buskers everywhere!

The Old Town Hall was begun in 1338 and slowly built up as neighboring buildings were added on. Some exhibits on architecture are inside, but we only went in for a much needed potty break. Posing in front of famous clocks can wear on anyone!

Other ornate parts of the tower

Jacob under the clock

Lucy by the entrance door

Lucy worried about being bitten

The other picturesque part of the square is the Jan Hus Statue. Unveiled on July 6, 1915, for the 500th anniversary of his death at the stake, the statue was fairly well received the the Czech people (who paid for it with donations).

Jan Hus, father of Czech Protestantism

Many other fancy buildings surround the square, making it quite beautiful to wander around during the day.

More of the market square

Ornate building

Statue on Our Lady Before Tyn

Wannabe Statues on Our Lady before Tyn

The square looks quite nice at night too!

Our Lady Before Tyn

Old Town Hall

Astronomical Clock

St. Nicholas

Okay, so the castle is not on the square, but I had to stick this night picture in somewhere

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