Stare Mesto Orientation Walk (Self Guided), Prague

Old Town (Czech: Staré Město) is a medieval settlement of Prague, once separated from the outside by a semi-circular moat and wall, connected to the Vltava at both of its ends. The moat is now covered up by the streets, which remain the official boundary of the cadastral district of Old Town. Notable places in the Old Town include the Old Town Square, Astronomical Clock, Kinsky Palace and many others. Take this orientation walk to explore the Prague Old Town at its best.
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Stare Mesto Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: Stare Mesto Orientation Walk
Guide Location: Czech Republic » Prague (See other walking tours in Prague)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 19
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.3 Km or 2.7 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Old Town Square
  • Old Town Hall Art Gallery
  • Prague Astronomical Clock
  • Church of Our Lady before Týn
  • Kinsky Palace
  • Republic Square
  • Municipal House
  • Powder Gate / Powder Tower
  • Na Příkopě
  • Celetna Street
  • Estates Theatre
  • St. Jilji Church
  • Clam Gallas Palace
  • Karlova Street
  • Clementinum
  • Charles Bridge
  • The Old Town Bridge Tower
  • Bethlehem Chapel
  • Wenceslas Square
1
Old Town Square

1) Old Town Square (must see)

While staying in Prague, you will, of course, visit the Old Town Square which is the heart of the city. Once a thriving market, the square is now a pedestrian area where tourists gather to relax over a drink in one of the many outdoor cafés and restaurants.

Here you will find some of the most impressive medieval buildings in Prague, beginning with the Old Town City Hall, built in 1364 and famous for its Astronomical Clock. At the northern end of the square stands the 18th century St Nicholas Church with its white façade seeming to gleam in the sunlight. It belongs to the Czech Hussite Movement and serves as both a church and a classical concert hall.

The 14th century Tyn Church is probably the most photographed church in the city, with its many Gothic spires. Access to the church is through the Tyn School, an impressive Gothic building with many arcades. Near the church, you can visit the House at the Stone Bell where the Municipal Gallery holds exhibitions. Its original Gothic façade was restored in the 1980s. Next to the Stone Bell is the lovely Kinsky Palace with its Rococo façade.

On the south side of the square you will come across some wonderful Baroque and Renaissance buildings that are named after their house signs: At the Stone Table; At the Red Fox; At the Blue Star. In the center of the square is the Jan Hus Memorial, placed there in 1915 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the religious reformer’s death.

Tip:
Climb or take the elevator to the top of the tower with the Astronomical Clock to get the perfect bird's eye view of the city from all angles.
Sight description based on wikipedia
2
Old Town Hall Art Gallery

2) Old Town Hall Art Gallery (must see)

The Old Town Hall belongs to the most important sights of Prague historical center. The town hall office had been situated in the corner burgher’s house with a tower since the first half of the 14th century. The Old Town Hall is currently comprised of a building complex of several burghers' houses which were purchased and rebuilt over the centuries.

Today the building complex of the Old Town Hall serves as the cultural and representative space of the city of Prague. The Gallery can use the rooms on the second floor in which it presents the latest tendencies of contemporary art to the public.
3
Prague Astronomical Clock

3) Prague Astronomical Clock (must see)

The Prague Astronomical Clock was built in around 1410 and is one of the oldest clocks of this type in Europe and the only one still working.

It is set in the Old Town Hall and is certainly worth seeing as it shows the large degree of scientific knowledge of the era. The clock face represents the Earth and the sky; one part for the day and the other for the night. The clock’s outer ring shows old Czech time; the astronomical dial shows the movements of the Sun and the Moon, and a third dial is for zodiacal signs.

The clock itself is actually quite difficult to understand, but its greatest attraction for most tourists is the hourly show of statues of the Twelve Apostles who appear one after the other. On each side of the clock are statuettes representing Vanity, Greed and Hedonism. A fourth statuette, Death represented as a skeleton, strikes the hour.

There are, of course, various legends about the clock, one being that the clockmaker, Hanus, had his eyes pulled out after finishing his work to stop him from making another. To take revenge, he is said to have broken the clock which then took 100 years repairing. Another legend says that if the clock stops for any length of time, Prague will fall.

Tip:
Climb or take the elevator to the top of the tower that houses the clock to get the perfect bird's eye view of the city from all angles.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Church of Our Lady before Týn

4) Church of Our Lady before Týn (must see)

The Church of Our Lady before Týn is a dominant feature of the Old Town of Prague and has been the main church of this part of the city since the 14th century. The church's towers are 80m high and topped by four small spires. The northern portal is a wonderful example of Gothic sculpture from the Parler workshop, with a relief depicting the Crucifixion. The main entrance is located on the church's western face, through a narrow passage between the houses in front of the church.

The oldest pipe organ in Prague stands inside this church. The organ was built in 1673 by Heinrich Mundt and is one of the most representative 17th-century organs in Europe. The great Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, who worked for Emperor Rudolph II, was buried in the church in 1601. His beautiful marble tomb slab is located inside.

Why You Should Visit:
Great pictures from the square outside and much detail on the inside. This church is stunningly illuminated at night if you're around after dark.

Tips:
Entrance is through a narrow passage; if you stand in the square and look at the two spires it is actually at the last arch on the left in the row of restaurants.
Note that visiting times are rather limited.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Kinsky Palace

5) Kinsky Palace

Prague is renowned for its beautiful buildings and perhaps the best of them is the Kinsky Palace in the Old Town Square.

The palace was built in the 18th century on the grounds of three 13th century buildings and you can see the vestiges of them in the cellars. Although the architecture is essentially Baroque, the façade is finest Rococo; the front of the palace is decorated with symbolic sculptures of the four Elements and antique gods. It was from the balcony of this palace that Klement Gottwald announced communist rule in Czechoslovakia in 1948.

For a short time at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century a part of the palace was a German School and Franz Kafka attended classes there between 1893 and 1901.

Today it belongs to the Prague National Gallery and displays a “Prints and Drawings” collection and wonderful Landscape Exhibition of paintings from the 17th to the 20th century. There is an excellent café, a museum shop where you can buy posters and postcards and the Franz Kafka Bookshop where you will find his publications and details about his life and works.
6
Republic Square

6) Republic Square

Prague is renowned for its wonderful palaces, towers and castles. If you are a history lover, it’s probably the best city in Europe to visit, but after immersing yourself for several days in historical buildings, art galleries and concert halls, you might have a hankering to see something modern. If this is the case, take a trek to the Republic Square.

This square lies at the boundary of Old Town and New Town and is the intersection of eight roads. Here you will find the Municipal House, with its salons, reception rooms and concert halls, and the Gothic Powder Tower, which once was used to store gunpowder and is now used for exhibitions.

Once you have admired (and perhaps visited) these buildings you can head to the Kotva Department Store where you will find clothes, jewellery, sports equipment, books and a lot more. On the top floor there is a terrace restaurant and on the roof there is a pretty good nightclub where you can Salsa the night away.

Also on the square is the huge, 115 000 square metre Palladium shopping centre. It houses four floors of shopping and commercial galleries with over 200 shops and thirty cafés and restaurants. During the survey before building started, archaeologists came across the foundations of several 12th century constructions and these have been incorporated into the architecture of the shopping centre.
7
Municipal House

7) Municipal House (must see)

The Municipal House ('Obecní dům') is a major civic landmark and concert hall in Prague, as well as an important building in architectural and political history in the Czech Republic. The Art Nouveau structure is an artifact of Czech nationalism of the time and carries a wealth of ornament by some of the leading Czech artists of its day.

The main facade features a large ceramic half-dome mosaic above the entry, 'Homage to Prague', by Karel Špillar. On either side are allegorical sculpture groups representing 'The Degradation of the People' and 'The Resurrection of the People' by Ladislav Šaloun. The main space within the Municipal House is the concert space, Smetana Hall, named in honor of Bedřich Smetana. On October 28, 1918, Smetana Hall was the scene of the proclamation of the independent state of Czechoslovakia.

Why You Should Visit:
One of many beautiful Art Nouveau buildings in Prague, but stands out for its great condition and scale. Every detail of the building is amazingly crafted.

Tip:
Check out the eateries/café/bar on the ground floor and in the cellar, representing four different styles – each one impressive.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Powder Gate / Powder Tower

8) Powder Gate / Powder Tower (must see)

The Powder Gate is a gothic gate in Prague, Czech Republic. It is one of the symbols of Prague, leading into the Old Town. Dating from 1475, the Powder Gate was built as one of 13 gates to the city. At the time construction began, it was connected to the royal palace. Before construction was completed, however, King Vladislav Jagellonský moved his residence to Prague Castle in 1485. However, the Powder Gate remained important to the Bohemian kings: from that time until 1836, the Bohemian monarchs would pass through the Powder Gate on their way to St. Vitus Cathedral to be crowned. The Powder Gate was designed by master builder Matěj Rejsek to follow the design used by Peter Parler for the Old Town Bridge Tower at the base of Charles Bridge. It is now one of the few remnants of the fortifications that once surrounded the city.

Why You Should Visit:
One of medieval Prague's most significant pieces of Gothic architecture.

Tip:
If interested in the scenic aspect, you may climb the 160 steps of the Powder Tower for a view over Old Town, New Town and across to the Prague Castle. The tower itself is photogenic from all angles. It was used as a storage facility for gunpowder in the 17th century, hence the name.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-10pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Na Příkopě

9) Na Příkopě

Na Příkopě (literally "on the moat"), also known as Na Příkopech or Příkopy, is a street in central Prague which connects Wenceslas Square to Square of the Republic and separates the Old Town from the New Town, founded in the 14th century. The street houses some of the most expensive residential property in Prague, office buildings (e.g. imposing headquarters of the Czech National Bank), historic palaces, cafés, and luxury shops (such as Černá Růže, Myslbek, and Slovanský dům). Since 1985, it has been one of the busiest thoroughfares in Prague and a pedestrian zone.
Sight description based on wikipedia
10
Celetna Street

10) Celetna Street

No visit to Prague would be complete without a walk along Celetna Street, part of the ancient Royal Road that was the coronation route from the Old Town to Prague Castle.

Celetna Street was named after the plaited rolls that used to be sold to the public while they waited to watch nobles pass by on their way to the castle. Nowadays the street is lined with souvenir shops, cafés and restaurants. In Prague it’s difficult not to start starting a photo collection of house signs and if you have become an aficionado, you’ll love this street!

Most of the buildings in the street have kept their Gothic or Romanesque vaulted cellars, except “at the Black Madonna” which is Prague’s first Cubist building. Manhart Palace or “at the Goats” is owned by the Theatre Institute and the Theatre in Celetna ;“at the Black Sun” is an early Gothic house, restored in the 18th century with a Baroque façade; “at the Three Kings” has an excellent café and a wine tasting room. Kafka lived there for a short time. “At the Golden Deer” was once a “rattle” post office, from which letters were delivered all over Prague – the postmen used to rattle chains outside houses to signal that they had a letter for the occupant. Other house signs include “at the Comb”, “at the Czech Eagle” and many more.

According to legend the street is haunted by a butcher carrying a bloodied axe and a prostitute who was murdered by a clergyman.
11
Estates Theatre

11) Estates Theatre (must see)

The Estates Theatre was commissioned in 1780 by a German-born Czech aristocrat named Frantisek Antonin Count Nostitz Rieneck, who wanted to have a theatre in Prague that rivaled the theatres in Vienna. The inscription over the entrance reads “Patriae et Musis” (To the Homeland and the Muses). It is one of the only theatres in Europe that is preserved in its original state.

It only took two years to build and was opened in 1783. Mozart loved this theatre and conducted the première of Don Giovanni there in 1787. Most of the plays and operas were in German to distinguish it from the Provisional Theatre which was exclusively a Czech stage.

Today its performances include dramas, ballets and operas and mainly center on Mozart’s work. The theatre’s modern claim to fame is that the scenes of Mozart in Prague, from the Oscar-winning film 'Amadeus', were shot there.

When you take in a performance at the Estates Theatre, you should follow the dress code and wear something rather smart; a tie isn’t necessary, but you might be refused entry if you turn up in jeans. The theatre is located between the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square.

Why You Should Visit:
Stunning interior with some amazing acoustics; a must for lovers of opera, drama, and ballet.

Tip:
Find the Theatre's website to buy tickets online.

Opening Hours:
At the National Theatre box offices (Mon-Fri: 9 am-6 pm, Sat-Sun: 10am-6 pm). You can buy tickets for the performances of Opera, Ballet, Drama, Laterna magika at the National Theatre, the Estates Theatre (Mon–Sun 10 am-6 pm) and the Karlín Music Theatre.
Sight description based on wikipedia
12
St. Jilji Church

12) St. Jilji Church

If you want to visit a really breath-taking church, don’t be fooled by the rather plain Gothic exterior of St Jilji Church in the Old Town.

The church was founded in the 13th century by the Bishop Jan IV on the site of another, older church. Remodelling was carried out in the 14th century by Dominican monks. In the 18th century a monastery was built beside the church.

The Baroque interior dates from this time and is quite simply beautiful, with its elaborate stuccoes by Bernard Spinetti and ceiling frescoes by the Czech artist Vaclav Vavrinec Reiner. The main alter and the pulpit are wonderfully decorated in intricate gold patterns and the confessional boxes have wood-carvings by Prachnerem. The church’s 3500 reed-pipe organ was installed in 1757 and features Baroque wood-carvings. Classical concerts are held in the church throughout the year.

The exterior is Gothic and once there were two steeples of the same height, but in the 15th century lightning struck the north steeple and it was burnt down. A lower temporary roof replaced the steeple, but “temporary” obviously had a different meaning in the 15th century, as the roof is the same today. The church is administered by the Order of Dominican Monks.
13
Clam Gallas Palace

13) Clam Gallas Palace

The Clam-Gallas Palace is a baroque palace in Prague. This palace is on Husova Street, in Prague Old Town. The Palace was first designed by the imperial court architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, from Vienna. It was built in 1714-18 by the Italian architect Domenico Canevale. During the rest of the 18th century, lavish balls and concerts were held in the Palace, and were attended by noteworthy artists including Mozart and Beethoven.

The Clam–Gallas Palace was built for the Viceroy of Naples, Johann Wenceslaus, Count of Gallas. The Gallas family died out in 1757, and at that point the Palace was inherited by Kristian Filip of Clam, son of Gallas' sister, and the Clam-Gallas family was created.

At the present time Opera Barocca performs in the palace in the evenings.
Sight description based on wikipedia
14
Karlova Street

14) Karlova Street

When you follow the Royal Route from the Old Town to Prague Castle, a part of it will take you through Karlova Street and you are certain to spend a little time exploring this quaint road.

Karlova Street begins at the Square of the Knights of the Cross and ends near the Charles Bridge. Most of the buildings have Baroque façades but have kept their Gothic or Romanesque cellars and vaults.

If you take photos of house-signs you can add several to your collection: “At the Blue Pike” was once a pub, frequented by Wenceslas IV and his magician Zito; “At the French Crown”, where the German astronomer J. Kepler lived; “At the Golden Crown” /”At the White Horse”, once two Gothic houses; the house sign is the original and dates back to the 16th century.

If you like puppets, you will be delighted to find several shops selling these lovable marionettes; the best puppet shop is “Kingdom of Marionettes”. There is also a small marionette theatre where you can watch a parody of Don Giovanni. There are open markets, souvenir shops, cafés and restaurants. When you have finished your visit there are plenty of street bands to serenade you on your way.
15
Clementinum

15) Clementinum

The Clementinum (Klementinum) is a historic complex of buildings in Prague. It is currently in use as the National Library of the Czech Republic. The history of the Klementinum dates from the existence of a chapel dedicated to Saint Clement in the 11th century. The National Library was founded in 1781 and from 1782 the Klementinum was a legal deposit library. In 1918 the newly-established Czecho-Slovak state took over the library. Since 1990, it has been the National Library. The architecture is a notable example of Baroque architecture and Clementinum, covering 20,000 square metres, is the second largest complex of buildings in Prague after the Prague Castle. The library contains a collection of Mozartiana, material pertaining to Tycho Brahe and Comenius, as well as historic examples of Czech literature. Today the complex hosts the National, University and Technical libraries. The City Library is also located nearby on Mariánské Náměstí.
Sight description based on wikipedia
16
Charles Bridge

16) Charles Bridge (must see)

The Charles Bridge (Karlův most) is a famous historical bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished at the beginning of the 15th century. As the only means of crossing the river Vltava (Moldau), the Charles Bridge was the most important connection between the Old Town, Prague Castle, and adjacent areas until 1841. This "solid-land" connection made Prague important as a trade route between Eastern and Western Europe.

The bridge was originally called the Stone Bridge (Kamenný most) or the Prague Bridge (Pražský most) but has been the "Charles Bridge" since 1870. The bridge is 516 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide, resting on 16 arches shielded by ice guards. The bridge is decorated by a continuous alley of 30 statues and statuaries, most of them baroque-style, erected around 1700.

Why You Should Visit:
Offers an incredible panorama of the Prague riverside.
A walk around the bridge will take you back to the 15th century.

Tips:
Come either early in the morning or late in the evening if you need more space, as this place is usually busy with tourists!
If you decide to walk across the bridge, take time to also visit the John Lennon wall close to the other side.
Sight description based on wikipedia
17
The Old Town Bridge Tower

17) The Old Town Bridge Tower (must see)

The beauty of Prague’s architecture is amply represented by the Old Town Tower Bridge which stands at one end of the Charles Bridge. Erected in the 14th century it was part of the old fortifications, built to protect the city from invaders coming from the North.

Above the arch, you will see the coat of arms of the Bohemian Kingdom and the symbol of Wenceslas IV, a kingfisher. Above this are three statues, Charles IV on the right, Wenceslas IV on the left and St Vitus in the middle. Statues of St Vojtech and St Sigismund are near the top of the tower.

The east and west façades were also decorated, but those on the west side were destroyed by the invading Swedish troops in 1648. A stone plaque representing the citizens of Prague repelling the Swedes was put up shortly after. The first floor of the tower was once a debtor’s prison and now shows a short film on how the bridge and tower came to be constructed. The top floor gives a marvelous view of Prague.

You will also see two rather enigmatic inscriptions under the roof of the tower’s archway. These palindromes read: “Signate Signate mere me tangis et angis” and “Roma tibi subito motibus ibit amor”. The reason for these inscriptions has been lost in the mists of time, but they are thought to be a magic formula against evil.

Why You Should Visit:
One of Prague's most iconic structures; an architectural masterpiece which offers arguably the best views of the bridge.

Tip:
Come back down backward for the first two or three flights of stairs from the top, as it may prove much easier.

Opening Hours:
March, October: 10am–9pm; November–February: 10am–6pm; April–September: 10am–10pm
18
Bethlehem Chapel

18) Bethlehem Chapel

Bethlehem Chapel is one of the most famous of Prague’s many chapels and you shouldn’t miss visiting it. It stands in Bethlehem Square in the Old Town.

The Catholic Church approved the building of a small chapel in 1391, but the chapel was a lot bigger than they had agreed to and housed up to 3000 churchgoers. Sermons were given in the Czech language instead of in German which had domination over the medieval Bohemian Church at that time.

Between 1402 and 1412 the religious reformer Jan Hus became rector and preacher there. When he was excommunicated in 1412 the Pope ordered the destruction of the chapel, but the Czech government refused to do this. Instead they gave it to the Czech Technical University. In 1661 the Jesuit order bought the chapel and changed it into a Catholic place of prayer.

In the late 18th century the chapel was pulled down and apartments were built on the site. In the 1950s it was restored to its initial state. Parts of the walls and the pulpit contain fragments of the original medieval chapel. You can see wall paintings from Hus’ time and some of his manuscripts. There are also modern religious paintings executed by Czech art students. Today the chapel holds services and occasionally concerts of classical music.
Sight description based on wikipedia
19
Wenceslas Square

19) Wenceslas Square (must see)

Wenceslas Square is almost an avenue as it is shaped as a very long rectangle, running from the northwest boundary of New Town to the Neoclassical National Museum at the southeast end.

The square came into being in the 14th century when Charles IV founded New Town; at that time it was a horse market. During the national revival in the 19th century, it received its current name and a very fine statue of St. Wenceslas was erected there. The Good King is mounted on his horse and around the base are four statues – Saint Agnes of Bohemia, St Prokop, Saint Adalbert of Prague and Saint Ludmila.

Perhaps because of its ancient status as a market, it has always been a natural gathering place: the Nazis held demonstrations there, national sporting event celebrations were held there and it was the focal point of the Velvet Revolution in 1989. When communist rule came to an end, the announcement to the Czech nation was made from this square.

Today, the square is still busy with locals and tourists who come to visit the museum or the Prague State Opera. The square is lined on both sides with offices, hotels, international shops, clubs, restaurants and snack bars.

Why You Should Visit:
A symbol of Czech nationhood and the best-known statue in Prague.

Tip:
Given that the St. Wenceslas statue stands at the top of the Square, you may get the best picture of the Square by having your back to the statue.
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Prague, Czech Republic

Create Your Own Walk in Prague

Create Your Own Walk in Prague

Creating your own self-guided walk in Prague is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Prague Nightlife

Prague Nightlife

Prague offers fascinating night entertainment. It has a lot of clubs and discos. Check out the most popular nightlife spots in Central Prague in the following self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles
Hradcany Walk

Hradcany Walk

Hradčany, or the Castle District, is an area in Prague surrounding the Prague Castle. The latter is said to be the biggest castle in the world (measuring some 570 meters long and approximate 130 meters wide). Going back in history as far as the 9th century, the castle has been the seat of power for Bohemian kings, Holy Roman emperors, leaders of Czechoslovakia and is currently the official...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.9 Km or 2.4 Miles
Holesovice Walking Tour

Holesovice Walking Tour

Holešovice is a suburb in the north of Prague situated on a meander of the river Vltava. In the past it was a heavily industrial area, while today it is home to the main site of the Prague's National Gallery, the Veletržní palác, and one of the largest railway stations in Prague, Nádraží Holešovice. Take this tour to enjoy what Holešovice area has to offer.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.9 Km or 3.7 Miles
Josefov Walking Tour

Josefov Walking Tour

Josefov, formerly the Jewish ghetto of the town, is completely surrounded by Prague Staré Město. Here you can find beautiful and historically important synagogues, as well as art galleries and museums. This tour will help you to explore the most interesting sites of the Jewish quarter.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.0 Km or 0.6 Miles
Josefov Nightlife

Josefov Nightlife

Prague offers fascinating night entertainment. It has a lot of clubs and discos. Check out the most popular nightlife spots in Central Prague in the following self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
Stare Mesto Nightlife

Stare Mesto Nightlife

Prague offers fascinating night entertainment. It has a lot of clubs and discos. Check out the most popular nightlife spots in Central Prague in the following self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 Km or 0.8 Miles

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