Panorama Nového města


The New Town (Nové Město) was founded by Charles IV in the year 1348, but many of its sections were settled from as early as the 10th century, for example, Poříčí, Chudobice, Opatovice, Rybníček, Zderaz, Podskalí and Psáře. Compared to the cosmopolitan, university and business oriented Old Town the New Town was settled by the Czech middle class, and mainly craftsmen. In fact, some crafts were relocated from Old Town to New Town so that they wouldn’t disturb its luxurious character. The New Town, as outlined by the fortification of Charles IV, encompassed 360 hectares. In places, its up to 27-metre-wide streets were suitable for transportation up to the second half of the 20th century and they impressed order on the previously chaotic scattering of settlements.

Obecní dům

On the northern side, a new development was built upon the old settlement of German merchants in the area around the Romanesque Church of St. Peter (kostel sv. Petra) from the 12th century, which was rebuilt into the Gothic style in the 14th and 15th centuries, and after that even a Renaissance bell tower was added. Peter’s settlement (Petrská osada) was, from ancient times, called Poříčí and the main street was named after it – Na Poříčí. Today it is ornamented by, for example, the cubist Legiobank Building by Josef Gočár (1921–23). You can also find here the functionalist Brouk and Babka department store dating from the end of the 1930s (later renamed White Swan [Bílá labuť]). After the tearing down of the Old Town’s ramparts in the 1780s, an encircling representative avenue was built on the location of the filled in rampart moats (divided into three streets, now Revoluční, Na Příkopě and Národní), which at Republic Square (náměstí Republiky) connects with Na Poříčí Street. The dominant features of Republic Square are not only the Municipal House and the Powder Tower, but also dům U Hybernů (Hibernian House – an empire style customs house structure, named after the local Irish Franciscan monastery).

A dominant feature of Národní třída (National Avenue) and the riverbank is the famous National Theatre. It was built using money collected from generous citizens of the city and common people. The building was created by Josef Zítek and after the fire in 1881 it was repaired by Josef Schulz. The ornamentation was done mainly by artists of the then upcoming generation, which was even named after the National Theatre. The most famous of which was notably the sculptor J. V. Myslbek, and painters M. Aleš, V. Brožík and V. Hynais. The neo-Renaissance style gradually transformed into Art Nouveau. From the very beginning, the National Theatre was built as an expression of something that represented the nation. In sight of the National Theatre, on the opposite bank of Slavonic Island (Slovanský ostrov), stands the Waterworks Tower dating from the end of the 15th century, which was drawn into the modern building of artistic associations known as Mánes. This original joining of Late Gothic and functionalism was carried out by O. Novotný (1927–30). Further along the riverbank, against the current of the Vltava River, the noteworthy Dancing House (Tančící dům) was recently erected (1990–96), with which Vlado Milunić and Frank O. Gehry brought into Prague a breath of the current, creative architectural thinking.

Václavské náměstí

Today, this riverbank avenue is frequented by a lot of traffic; however, the main routes of traffic lead elsewhere. But even today, this street is very alive. The main traffic route leads from Peter’s Quarter (Petrská čtvrť) to the newly built parochial Church of St. Henry (kostel sv. Jindřicha). This noteworthy, and for the time of Charles IV typical, three-nave church was partially redone in the Gothic style in the 19th century. The parochial church gave its name to Jindřišská Street, which leads to the Horse Market (Koňský trh), from the year 1848 called Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí). Wenceslas Square became, from the second half of the 19th century, the main centre of modern Prague. Its magnificent medieval dimensions (the occupied area is 41,400 m2) fully satisfy even today’s needs. The exemplary buildings and palaces of Wenceslas Square can serve as an illustration of the development of our New Age architecture, but its dominant feature is the National Museum building. It was built by Josef Schulz between the years 1885–90, and the sculptural ornamentation (with an emblem of Bohemia and Bohemian rivers at its entrance way) was created by Antonín Wagner. Even at the time of its creation, this atypical Prague Neo-Renaissance structure was not supposed to be only a museum but also a centre for Czech sciences and a representation of the cultural and political ambitions of Czech society. The spectacular interior not only harbours rich collections but also the Pantheon – a hall devoted to the commemoration of extraordinary Czech individuals. The Horse-Mounted Statue of St. Wenceslas was built between the years 1912–24, in front of the National Theatre on Wenceslas Square. But, from the year 1680, his Baroque predecessor, now in the Lapidarium, stood here. The founder of modern Czech sculpture, J. V. Myslbek, created the present-day statue. The main guardian of our land and our eternal leader is accompanied by the national patrons St. Ludmila, St. Procopius, St. Agnes of Bohemia and St. Adalbert. Prague inhabitants use this monument as a meeting point. It doesn’t matter if the meeting is a lovers’ rendezvous or a political demonstration, the monument to St. Wenceslas on Wenceslas Square acts as a magnet. Our most recent history also unfolded here. All of the most important demonstrations against communism took place here.

Karlovo náměstí

From Wenceslas Square we will walk down Vodičkova Street directly to the former livestock market, now Charles Square (Karlovo náměstí), the second main focal point of New Town. Charles IV founded it as the main centre of Prague’s new side. That is why it has an unbelievable area (80,500 m2) and that is why the New Town Hall, which served its purpose up to the year 1784, is located here. The Town Hall building was built between the years of 1377–1418, and the corner tower in the years 1452–56. These walls were witness to the first Czech defenestration (1419), which released the avalanche of Hussite Wars. In about the middle of the east side of the square we can find the monumental Baroque Cathedral of St. Ignatius (chrám sv. Ignáce) (completed in 1670 by Carlo Lurago). Further to the east, on the corner of Štěpánská Street and Na Rybníčku Street, there stands the Romanesque Rotunda of St. Longin from the 11th century, which was the parochial church of the then settlement of Rybníček.

Emauzský klášter

Many noteworthy monuments can be found south of Charles Square (Karlovo náměstí) in New Town. The Emaus Monastery (Emauzský klášter), founded in the year 1347, is the only new structure whose completion (1372) Charles IV lived to see. He paid careful attention to its ornamentation. The beautiful three-nave hall is complemented by an extraordinary series of frescos in the cloister. This is the largest preserved collection of medieval wall paintings outside of Italy. The cloister was damaged during bombing at the close of World War II, and so its rebuilding was conducted by F. M. Černý (1967). The bold structure became the new dominant feature of this part of the riverbank. On the square stands an astonishing eight-sided cathedral of Augustinian canons, the sacred Virgin Mary and Charlemagne. Charles IV wanted to remind people of the Aachen chapel of Charlemagne, whose successor he considered himself to be. However, today the cupola is of a Renaissance style (1575). Its massive star vaults are purposely reminiscent of the distant past. The historicism of Gothic continued in the historicism of Renaissance.

The medieval street plan of New Town looks almost unbelievable. This is a far-sighted urban planning concept that was ahead of its time by many centuries. We will never find out who was the author – Peter Parler, or Charles IV, or both together? Besides the extraordinary composition of the newly founded sections of town, no less noteworthy is the manner of linking these newly built up areas with the older settled areas.

Panorama Vyšehradu

Vyšehrad, the mythical seat of the Premyslian princedom, dates from the 10th century. It may be younger than Prague Castle but that takes nothing away from its significance. It reached its greatest splendour in the 2nd half of the 11th century. At that time, the castle often hosted king Vratislav II, who founded the local Capitular Church of SS Peter and Paul (kapitulní kostle sv. Petra a Pavla). Its contemporary appearance is due to its remodelling in the Gothic style in the 19th century. Not far from here stands a monument to Vratislav II –The Rotunda of St. Martin (rotunda sv. Martina). This is the oldest preserved Prague rotunda. After the death of Vratislav II, Vyšehrad changed into mainly a ruler’s fortress above Prague and remained so for 800 years. But in the 14th century Charles IV gave Vyšehrad a special sparkle when he placed it in his coronation series. From here a ruler set out on a ceremonial and symbolic pilgrimage through the city and only then could he be crowned in the cathedral with St. Wenceslas’ Crown and become the Czech king. When, in the year 1866, Vyšehrad even lost its function as fortress, the local Vyšehrad Cemetery began to expand and change to Slavín Cemetery, which was, between the years 1890–1902, architecturally reorganised by Antonín Wiehl. Thus the famous cemetery and memorial for the most noteworthy individuals of our land came into being. Those buried here include, for example, the authors J. Zeyer, J. Vrchlický, and K. Čapek, painters A. Mucha, and V. Špála, sculptors J. V. Myslbek and L. Šaloun, architect Josef Gočár and K. Hilbert, the composer Dvořák and the singer E. Destinnová, the politician F. L. Rieger and many others. The Vyšehrad Gardens were created from the ruins. To this day, one can see the remains of the Gothic Luxemburg Palace. After the year 1947, the Myslbek sculpture from Palacký Bridge was placed here. The mythical personalities of our past allegorically come to life here: Lumír and Píseň (1888), Přemysl and Libuše (1889), Ctirad and Šárka (1895) and Záboj and Slavoj (1892).

Map of Prague

1New Town borders
2Vysehrad borders


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Updated 01-01-1970 01:00