When we first decided to move to Prague I was super excited about this becoming a travel blog. I love to travel and I love travel blogs with all their pretty pictures. Sadly, my photography skills still aren’t up to snuff but I’ve decided not to let that stop me. (And hopefully this blog will motivate me to actually practice my photography!) So here we go with one of the first places on every Prague tourist’s itinerary—Old Town Square.
The second day we were back from Christmas vacation we were walking through the square on our way to get some things repaired on Parizska street when my husband turned to me and said, “It’s really something to be able to walk out your door and in a few steps be somewhere with so much life.” My first thought was simply that that is what’s so great about actually living in the city and not the suburbs, but as he pointed out Prague is very different than Seattle. Even at 7 p.m. on a cold January night there were quite a few people just hanging out around the square, whereas in downtown Seattle the only people out at that hour are going someplace (usually home from work).
I have to admit that while some people would say that it is too touristy (and it can get annoyingly crowded at the top of the hour) I love Old Town Square. It is absolutely magical, day or night. The first thing I usually see coming from our flat in Vinohrady is the Astronomical Clock.
Is it entirely underwhelming? Yes. Does that alone make it worth it? Probably. So if you are in Prague for the first time, you should definitely go see it. It does its thing every hour on the hour and while it is underwhelming by today’s standards I imagine it was quite a big deal in 1410.
In addition to the Astronomical Clock, Old Town Square is home of some of the prettiest buildings in Prague. I am especially fond of this row here:
And a statute of Jan Hus, a priest and church reformer from the 14th/15th Centuries:
The Czech Republic is a very interesting place in terms of religious history. It was a Catholic country and the birthplace of Good King Wenceslas (you know, from the Christmas carol no one knows the words of) and a Holy Roman Emperor also born Wenceslas, although he’s known as Charles IV. Then came Jan Hus and Protestantism. Then they became a Catholic country again. Then came Communism. And now it is one of the least religious countries in the world, although there are churches EVERYWHERE. (Which—according to our tour guide several years ago—people only go in to for concerts.) In addition, although the percentage of the population that is Jewish is very small, Prague has a very impressive Jewish Quarter.
There is, of course, much more to Old Town than just the Square and to see it I recommend another thing that many would probably regard as a tourist trap—taking one of the “free” (i.e., you pay what you want in the form of a “tip” to the guide) tours that leave from the Astronomical Clock. (Which, incidentally, means that you will get an explanation of what is happening, much of which you would probably miss when the clock chimed if no one told you what to look for.) Afterwards you will be in a central location to access Josefov (the Jewish Quarter), Charles Bridge and Malastrana, or window shopping on Parizska street.