Prague New Town

Once King Charles IV had built Prague’s New Town in 1348, it was intended to function as the main business center of Prague, as well as the administrative capital for the king. That is the purpose of the city today as it is a financial hub as well as home for hotels, department stores, and smaller shops. New Town is teeming with cultural formats such as an opera house, museums and theaters.

King Charles IV established New Town in 1348 to be a new larger district between Vysehrad and the Old Town. As a result, the new section boosted the area and the population of Prague during the time when Prague was the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. The King’s plan was to move trade and commerce from Old Town to New Town.

The King supervised the planning of the layout of streets of Nove Mesto by employing a modern arrangement of street grids, town squares, and broad boulevards. The squares are the focal points of the New Town with the Wenceslas Square as the busy center of Nove Mesto with the district broadening north and south in the direction of the river. The Horse Market became Wenceslas Square, the Cattle Market changed Charles Square and the Hay Market kept its original name. The modern streets of Vodickova and Jindrisska joined all three markets.

Initially New Town had Gothic architecture, but the present design originates from the end of the 1800s. Many of the earliest buildings were dismantled because the district had turned into slums. The newer buildings are of varied architectural style reflecting the time.

Visitors to New Town Prague will find most of its attractions are based on its history. Wenceslas Square is the best starting point. It was created as the Horse Market by Charles IV. It gained its importance as a core of protests, assemblies and actions in Czech history such as the remonstration against the Soviet invasion and the end of Communism. Today it is the center of stores, hotels, and nightlife. An important monument in the square is the equestrian sculpture of St. Wenceslas. Charles Square, the largest square in Prague, was initially developed as the Cattle Market. The two most significant buildings on the square are the New Town Hall and the Baroque-designed Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius.

The Jindrisska Tower is distinctive because the newer tower was erected inside the framework of an older tower. The 10 chimes within the tower perform one of over 1000 melodies. The National Museum of Prague, dedicated in 1890, displays the history of the Czech nation. The museum exhibit is the prehistory of the area plus compilations of rocks, paleontology, anthropology, and zoology. The National Theatre, built during the same time as the National Museum, represents the Czech nationalism. Currently, the theater presents ballet, drama and opera. The Dancing House, also known as Ginger and Fred, is a modern building that draws both admiration and ire.

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