Free Prague Walking Tour:
: Old Town Prague (Stare Mesto)
: Free (optional costs below)
: Do-It-Yourself Walking Tour (Self Guided)
: Charles Bridge (Karlov Most)
: Old Town Square (Stare Namesti)
: 2.2 Miles
: 60 Minutes for walk (with all sights 5 hours)
: 10 out of 10
Old Town Prague Overview:
Officially established in 1091, Old Town Prague is bound to make you feel like you’ve stepped back into time. Early Prague was a crossroads where traders met, kingdoms were formed, and even a place where religions were started. Over the centuries Old Town has overgrown its former walls, but has masterfully retained its Medieval charm thanks to being largely untouched in WW2 compared to other European capitols. Hitting up all of the stops on our free Prague walking tour map will make it easy to fall in love with Old Town. Enjoy our free Old Town Prague walking tour!
Old Town Prague Walking Tour:
1. National Library (Clementinum):
About The Clementinum: Sitting between Charles Bridge and the core of Old Town, the stunning National Library is the perfect place to start our free Prague walking tour. Back in the 11th Century, the Dominican Order of Monks began to build a small monastery here beginning with the Chapel of Saint Clement. In 1556, Jesuits monks moved into the monastery and founded a school. The growing school was promoted to a University in 1622 which led to considerable expansions in the 1650s. Charles University merged with the Jesuit College and quickly became the 2nd largest building complex in town behind Prague Castle.
The Jesuit College grew so fast in the 1600s that it quickly grew from just 1 book to over 20,000 books and attracted many great thinkers. The most famous of these thinkers arrived in 1619 when German mathematician Johannes Kepler used the Clementinum’s observatory come up with his Laws of Planetary Motion. Empress Maria Theresa even fell in love with the Jesuit complex and helped to further expand it in 1722 to include a 170-foot-tall Astronomical Tower and the gorgeous Baroque-style National Library Hall. The Library and its amazing ceilings are still one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. If you are willing to manage its 172 stairs, the Astronomical Tower offers unique views of Old Town Prague, and it also holds the world record for the longest continuous recording of daily temperature. Just 50 years after the last expansion of the Clementinum the Jesuits were forced out of Prague in 1773, but the Clementinum still survives as Prague University and National Library.
Even if you are pressed for time, the Clementinum is worth every minute to see the amazing National Library Hall. If you happen to be coming from Charles Bridge make sure to look up and find the statue of the nude girl sitting on a ledge holding a bird. It is called The Girl with Paper Swallow and was added as part of an exhibition in 2006.
Clementinum Hours: January-March 10am-4:30pm; April-October 10am-7pm; November-December 10am-6pm. Guided Tours: Tours last 50 minutes and leave every 30 minutes with a maximum of 22 guests at a time. Cost: Adults 300 CZK; Student & Senior 200 CZK; Kids 6 and under Free; Skip The Line Pass 380 CZK. Library Website: (HERE).
2. New City Hall (Nová Radnice):
About New City Hall: The large New City Hall, with its beautiful facade, sits in the middle of Virgin Mary Square which has deep roots back to Medieval times. In the 1100s a sizeable Romanesque-style church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was built here surrounded by a cemetery. It’s said that locals nicknamed the church Mary on the Puddle because of flood waters that frequented the square. After Joseph II’s reforms in the 1780s closed one-third of all the monasteries in the Holy Roman Empire, Mary’s Church was abandoned and later demolished in 1791.
Today’s New City Hall was built from 1908-11 in a classic Art Nouveau-style decorated by dozens of statues. The building may be the main seat of city government in Prague and Mayor’s office, but it’s a couple of the exterior sculpture that matter to us. Our favorite statue is the dark, larger than life one of the Northwest corner of the building called the Iron Knight. Legend has it that the Knight stabbed a young lady who did not want him and as she died, she cursed him to turn to iron. To us, the Iron Knight statue looks a lot like Darth Vader from the Star Wars series. On the Southwest corner of City Hall is another large dark statue depicting Rabbi Loew who infamous in folklore for creating the Golem to protect Prague’s Jewish community.
Before continuing around Town Hall, make sure to visit the small fountain on the back side of the neighboring Clam-Gallas Palace as it is considered the most beautiful sculpture in Prague. The fountain is called Vltava, after the Prague’s River, and shows a lovely topless maid pouring our two jugs of water. The two pitchers represent the two sources of water for the Vltava River. Notice that one of the jars has 5 stars on it which are the symbol of the Czech Catholic Saint John of Nepomuk who drowned in the Vltava River as a martyr centuries ago. The fountain was added to the square in 1812-18, but was replaced with a replica in 1957 after the original fell into disrepair.
3. Little Square (Malé Náměstí):
About Little Square: Rounding the corner from New City Hall into the Little Square, you will catch your first glimpse of Prague’s tightly packed colorful buildings. The picture-perfect scene in Little Square is a great preview what you will see later on this Old Town Prague walking tour. Little Square is said to be the oldest inhabited part of Prague with homes going back to the 700s. The square gained its final layout in the 1100-1200s ringed with narrow Gothic houses which grew into larger Renaissance buildings over 500 years later. To this day, many of the building still have Romanesque cellars dating back to the early Middle Ages.
Our favorite building on Little Square is the stunning V.J. Rott House which boasts a beautiful full building mural facade depicting various Medieval tradespeople. The 4-story home was built in 1896 by Ladislav Rott who (along with his brother Julius) started a successful iron working and construction company. Previous to the Rott House, the lot was the site of an older home from the 1200s called At the Three White Roses, which was named after the 3 wealthy sisters that once lived there. Today the Rott House is home to the Hard Rock Cafe (website) and the Rott Hotel (website). The blue White Lion building next to the Rott House is also from the 1800s, but has an excellent Gothic doorway dating back to the 1300s.
In the middle of Little Square is the Iron Fountain which is the oldest well in Prague. There has been a formal fountain above the well since the 1100s and the well preserved gilded iron gate wrapping around it was handmade in 1560. The Iron Fountain has held up well to the test of time and is the perfect companion to the Little Square’s outdoor restaurants which sit on raised wooden planks.
For another look into the past, make sure to look at some of the icons above the doorways which were used to identify the building of Little Square in Medieval times. The figures were significant at the time because not many people could read. Surviving in Little Square today are the figures of a Golden Fish, a Blue Horse, Golden Sun, and more. These Medieval icons will be a reoccurring theme on this free Prague walking tour.
4. House At The Minute (UÂ Minuty):
About The The House At The Minute: As you start to hit the entrance to Old Town Square, make sure to look left and inspect our favorite home on this free Prague walking tour called At The Minute (my-nute, not minute). It’s funny how many people walk right past what may be Prague’s most beautiful historic home which dates back to the early 1400s. In 1564 a third floor was added to the house, and it received a complete Renaissance makeover including the fantastic Sgraffito etchings. The beautiful white etchings on the black facade depict scenes from the Bible (Adam & Eve), Roman Mythology (Hercules & Bacchus), Habsburg rulers of the day (Philip II of Spain, Maximilian II and his son Rudolf II), and Ottoman Sultan Selim (who the Habsburgs signed a peace treaty with). Back then the building was known as the White Lion House and later served as a pharmacy until 1712.
By the late 1700s, the beautiful Lion statue holding a shield placed on the corner of the home which still survives today. The shield once displayed the Habsburg coats of arts, however, any painting on it has long since faded. Later the White Lion House was turned into a tobacco shop which is how it got its current name, At The Minute. Our first reaction was to think the title At The Minute came from the home’s location next to Old Town Prague’s central clock tower, but it is actually from the small packs of tobacco that were sold in the shop. Minute, in this case, means very small as in My-Nute not the measure of time Minute. At some point after the name change, the Sgraffito etchings were covered up with plaster and were not re-discovered until renovations in 1919.
While the facade is the main attraction today, the House At The Minute is most famous for being the childhood home to local author Franz Kafka and his family from ages of 6 to 13 (1889 to 1896). Many of the characters in Kafka’s short stories lived life under overpowering bureaucracies with feelings of helplessness just like he had early in his life in Prague. These types of characters were easy for people to identify with changing the landscape of early 20th Century writing and leading to the term Kafkaesque for roles like this. Today the bottom floor of the former mansion holds the Ristorante Italiano Al Minuto (website). On the opposite side of the road from the House At the Minute is a row of other interesting homes with Medieval names we will touch on at the end of this free Prague walking tour.
5. Old Town Square Classic View:
About The Viewpoint: After admiring the At Minute House, it is almost unreal the first time Old Town Square reveals itself from around the corner. While it can be tempting to trot right to the center of the square like a moth to a light, make sure to take the time to take in the classic view. Old Town Square has been the heart and soul of Prague long before the city was officially founded in 1091 AD. This perfect viewpoint gives you Old Town Hall with its Astronomical Clock to your left, the Gothic Church of Our Lady Before Týn in the center, and a row of Medieval houses on your right.
For maybe the most unique perspective of the the entrance to Old Town Square, consider visiting the street-level patio or rooftop terrace restaurant (website) of the fancy Hotel U Prince (website). During the evenings and weekends, you will want to make a reservation for the terrace as the views over the rooftops is amazing. The hotel also has a famous underground cave-like bar called the Black Angel (website) which is worth a visit. The historic bar is only open from 5pm-3am, must dress in smart casual attire (no hats), and reservations are highly suggested.
6. Astronomical Clock Tower (Pražský Orloj):
About Prague’s Astronomical Clock: After King John of Luxemburg allowed Prague to form a city council in 1338, work quickly started on the huge town hall complex. The main building and 228-foot-tall bell tower were finished relatively quickly, but the real gem is the Astronomical Clock which was added to the in 1410. Surprisingly the beautiful clock still works making it the oldest operational clock in the World and overall the 3rd oldest astronomical clock. Local folklore says that the city ordered the original clock maker blinded so the beauty of the clock could never be copied anywhere else. The clock was almost silenced forever in 1945 when it was severely damaged during a citizens’ uprising against the Nazis occupying Prague and wasn’t repaired for 3 full years.
The elements of the Astronomical Clock may look confusing, but each one has a particular function. The main part added in 1410 was the Astronomical Dial which shows the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky with a mechanical clock in the center of it. This dial will let you tell the current time (modern 24-hour clock), ancient Bohemian time, sunrise, sunset, and much more. The 2nd element added to the clock was The Walk of the Apostles in the 1600s which is filled with animated statues (replaced in 1865) that come alive once an hour peeking through the window. This hourly show also features a few side statues including Vanity staring at himself in the mirror, a miser with gold representing greed, a Turkish man bringing entertainment, and Death is represented by a skeleton chiming his bell with the sounds from the tower. The last major element on the Astronomical Clock is the Calendar Dial added in 1870. The center of the dial has the crest of Old Town Prague surrounded by the 12 Zodiac symbols (pre-2012 version) lining up with the days they fall on laying on the outer ring with has marks for each day of the year. These 365 individual days are each marked as Name Days and on your day you are given gifts similar to celebrating a birthday. The Dial rotates keeping the current day on the top although there is a repeat on Leap Years which wasn’t adopted in Prague yet when the clock was made. Make sure to read our detailed guide on How To Read Prague’s Astronomical Clock.
One of the biggest treats is going to the top of the 228-foot-tall Bell Tower for an unbeatable view of Old Town Prague. Even if you take the stairs, make sure to check out the modern looking Space Elevator going right up the middle of the bell tower. You can also tour the surprisingly vast Underground of Old Town Hall for a totally different perspective on the building. Here you will find previous Town Hall foundations that have been built over and even a Romanesque Hall room from the 1100s. Bell Tower Hours: Monday 11am-10pm; Tuesday-Sunday 9am-10pm. Cost is 110 CZK. Underground Hours: Monday 11am-10pm; Tuesday-Sunday 9am-10pm. Cost is 50 CZK. Town Hall Website: (HERE).
Read More: How To Read Prague’s Astronomical Clock.
7. Memorial Cross Park:
About Memorial Park: In the late 1300s most of greater Bohemia switched from being Catholic to Protestant from the influence of Prague’s preacher Jan Hus who started the Hussite Movement. The original split was largely due to Jan Hus protesting the church to preach in the local language instead of Latin. Major conflicts started to arise in the 1600s when the Catholic Church tried to conquer much of Europe during the 30 Years War. The famous religious war is said to have it roots in Bohemia when Emperor Ferdinand II started oppressing Czech’s Protestants in 1609 to strengthen the Habsburg rule over the region. Ferdinand even moved the capital of the Holy Roman Empire from Vienna to Prague and started to crack down on religious freedom. Empowered by a growing citizens revolt in 1618, forty-seven Czech Noblemen gathered their forces of over 30,000 men to fight off Emperor Ferdinand II. The Protestant army was ultimately defeated at the Battle of White Mountain on November 8, 1620 ending Bohemia’s resistance in the 30 Years War.
In the aftermath of the Battle of White Mountain the region was put under tighter Hapsburg rule, forced to return to Catholicism, and the 47 rebel noblemen we put on trial. It wasn’t much of a trial as they weren’t given a full defense and 27 of them were executed in Old Town Square on June 21, 1621. With the Protestant noblemen out of the way, the Habsburgs took greater control of Prague and most of the surrounding farmland. The Habsburg rule over Prague lasted almost 400 years (1526-1918), but with the influence waning, a Memorial Park was created in the Old Town Square honoring the 27 executed noblemen in 1911. The Memorial holds a plaque with the names of the noblemen, as well as white crosses in the pavement for each one of them. On the side of Old Town Hall, facing the Old Town Square, you will also see a plaque honoring Jan Zelivsky was one of the noblemen and a very popular priest carrying on Jan Hus’ work. The entirety of the more traditional tree-filled park next to the crosses was where the massive main hall of the Medieval Old Town Hall sat before it was bombed in WW2.
8. Church of Saint Nicholas:
About The Church of Saint Nicholas: People often get confused that there are two Churches of Saint Nicholas in Prague that look almost the same on the outside. The older of the two churches is in the heart of Lesser Town below Prague Castle, and the slightly younger one was constructed here as part of the Benedictine Monastery in 1735.
Built to replace an older church from the Middle Ages, the view of the Old Town’s Church of Saint Nicholas was originally blocked from the main square by a 3-story tall Medieval mansion called the Krenn House (photo). The Krenn House (built in 1409) was torn down in 1901 opening up views of the green dome and twin towers of the large Church of Saint Nicolas. While it is impressive on the outside, the once grand interior of the Old Town Saint Nicholas Church is now a little boring. The original Baroque interior elements were stripped when the Jesuits were forced out of Prague in the 1790s and today is full of a series of painted murals. In contrast, the Saint Nicholas Church in Lesser Town has retained much of its original glorious Baroque interior and is far more impressive inside.
If you are into the Jewish history of Prague, make sure the check of the Kafka Cafe next to the church which was once the home and birthplace of author Franz Kafka. Franz wrote a number of successful short stories while living in Prague about characters living under oppression and was considered one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. We also have a very helpful Jewish Quarter walking tour map which you can follow for a deeper look into the history of the nearby Jewish Neighborhood after you are done in Old Town.
Church Website: (HERE).
9. Jan Hus Memorial:
About The Jan Hus Memorial: Overpowering the center of Prague’s Old Town Square is the large green memorial statue dedicated to local preacher Jan Hus. Born in 1370, Jan Hus quickly became a local religious leader in Prague. He started butting heads with the Vatican in Rome when he began doing Catholic mass in the local language instead of in Latin which started the Protestant movement in Prague called the Hussite Movement in his honor. Finding him guilty of being a heretic by the Catholic church in 1415, Jan Hus was burned alive at the steak and the Protestants were sent on exile from Prague which lasted over 200 years. Roughly 100 years after his death, Jan Hus helped to inspire Martin Luther as he broke his group of followers off into the Lutheran sect of Protestantism.
The Jan Hus Memorial in Old Town Square was completed on July 6, 1915 which was the 500th anniversary of his death. The memorial has a statue of an anonymous young woman representing the rebirth of the Czech Nation. The other statue on the monument is of Jan Hus representing moral authority as he chose to give his life rather than give up his beliefs. Hus became a symbol of standing up to the powerful Vatican and by the early-1900s young people of Prague really began to embrace him again as they were standing up to their oppressive Habsburgs rulers. We find the Jan Hus Memorial to be the most beautiful statue on this free Prague walking tour of Old Town.
10. Goltz-Kinsky Palace:
About Goltz-Kinsky Palace: Often called the most beautiful Rococo building in Prague, the Goltz-Kinsky Palace is now part of the National Gallery Art Museum. The fancy looking pink mansion was built by Count J.A. Goltz on the foundation of an older Medieval building in 1755. The original foundation can be seen in the Romanesque and Gothic cellars which have been restored and opened to the public. After he died in 1768, Count František Oldrich Kinský bought the mansion and made it his family home for generations. Baroness Bertha Suttner–Kinský (born here in 1843) became the 2nd female Nobel laureate and 1st woman to win the Noble Peace Prize in 1905 for her writing Lay Down Your Arms and contributing to the creation of the Prize.
From 1893 to 1901 the Goltz-Kinsky Palace served as a German Grammar school where famed local author Franz Kafka attended. In 1948, the Communist leader Klement Gottwald gave a speech from the balcony declaring the start of his party’s oppressive policies on the people of Prague. We will see more from this era of Prague’s history at the Communist Museum later on this free Old Town Prague walking tour.
Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm; Closed Mondays. Gallery Cost: Adults 300 CZK and kids 150 CZK which also covers all other National Gallery locations in Prague for up to 7 days. Goltz-Kinsky Palace Address: Old Town Square #12. Palace Website: (HERE).
11. The Prague Meridian:
About The Prague Meridian: In 1650, Prague’s Habsburg ruler Ferdinand III added a large Marian Holy Trinity Column (photo) to Old Town Square honoring the Peace of Westphalia agreement which ended the 30 Years War. In exchange for the peace, locals had to accept Catholicism and give up some religious freedoms. Capped with a statue of the Virgin Mary, the column was so tall that it was quickly turned into a large sundial. As part of this dial, 60-foot-long line in the pavement called the Prague Meridian was added from the base of the Mary Column toward the North and was tipped with a golden marker. Whenever the shadow from the Marian Column passed the Meridian line it marked celestial noon which is when the day’s light is halfway over.
The concept of celestial noon may seem foreign now, but back in Medieval times, people kept track of time more by the daylight hours instead of a standardized clock. Both the night time and daylight hours were divided into 12 hours, but the length of those hours was adjusted based on the season. No matter the time for year, Noon always fell halfway through daylight and Midnight was actually at midnight. Local citizens became frustrated by almost 400 years of Habsburg rule (1526-1918) and viewed the column as a symbol of oppression. The situation boiled over in 1918 when demonstrators tore the Mary Column down, but an outline of the base and the Meridian line can still be seen in the pavement of Old Town Square.
12. White Horse Restaurant:
About The White Horse Restaurant: There are a few restaurants with great patio seating in front of the colorful homes right on Old Town Square, however, the best food is at the White Horse Restaurant (Bílý Koníček). Built in the well preserved 12th Century cellars of the former Golden Unicorn House, the atmosphere of the restaurant is awesome. The original home was built in the 1100s before being converted into a tower-like building in 1496 then getting its current Baroque facelift in the 1700s.
Another popular restaurant is the At the Stone Table House (Kamenný Stůl) in the pink build at #18. It is famous for being frequented by Franz Kafka and Albert Einstein, but we find the service to be below par and the atmosphere is way below the White Horse.
Hours: Daily 9am-Midnight; reservations suggested for inside dining. Restaurant Address: Old Town Square #20. Restaurant Website: (HERE).
13. The Storch House:
About The Storch House: The Storch House and its Juliet-like balcony may have the most beautifully painted facade out of any of Prague’s Medieval homes. When bookseller and publisher Alexander Storch took over the house as a store in 1896 he had it painted with a series of neo-Renaissance murals you see today. The murals are broken into 3 sections with the bottom showing scientific and astronomical study, the middle with Prague’s Coat of Arms squeezed between 4 windows, and the top mural showing the Saint Wenceslas, patron of Bohemia, riding a white steed while being given the grace of God. Some locals differ on the name calling it the At the Stone Virgin Mary House.
Next door to the Storch House at Old Town Square #15 is the At Capricorn House where Albert Einstein often held lectures and played his violin while serving as a professor at Prague University from 1911-1912. This was an important time in Einstein’s life as it was shortly before he came up with the Theory of Relativity. Storch House Address: Old Town Square #16.
14. Church of Our Lady Before Týn:
About Our Lady Before Týn: When you think of Prague in all of its Medieval glory and wonder, the image of the Church of Our Lady Before Týn is bound to come to your mind. The church is by far the most iconic building in Prague and easily the most photographed. This Gothic masterpiece, with two imposing 262-foot-tall towers topped with huge spires glares over Old Town Square. There have been churches here since the 11th Century and the current Lady Before Týn (meaning enclosure) dates back to the 1300s. It took over 300 years to complete the giant church so make sure to take extra time to relish in the beauty of its exterior. The inside of the church is a little bit of a let down compared to Europe’s other grand cathedrals, however, the bases of each column have amazing paintings set up in alter-like positions.
Before deciding to enter the Lady Before Týn, make sure to check out the former Týnská School sitting at Old Town Square #14 right in front of the church which now holds a number of shops. The school ran here for 500 years from the 1300-1800s and its entrance forms the oldest Gothic archway in town. While passing under the gallery archways look up among the different floral keystones to find the one depicting a man’s face blowing air while surrounded by leaves called the Green Man. The Green Man was a common symbol in Medieval times signaling Spring and rebirth. We love this unique and beautiful hidden detail which can be easy to overlook otherwise.
15. House at the Stone Bell:
About House at the Stone Bell: The House at Stone Bell is always a photographer favorite and a very easy one for informed tourists to spot. This three-story home with excellent Gothic windows dates back to the early-1400s when it replaced an older home from 1260. The nickname House at Stone Bell was first mentioned in 1413 from a story that says a large bell from the neighboring Church of Our Lady Before Týn once broke free and crashed into the house. It is unclear if the story is true, but a replica of the famous bell was added protruding out of the corner of the house which makes the folklore even cooler.
Inside the home today is a neat art gallery shop and the backside has a relaxing cafe. If you check out the small art gallery, it also gives you access to the awesome music room on the 3rd floor behind the home’s Gothic windows. Our favorite part about visiting House at the Stone Bell is the amazing Romanesque cellar foundations from 13010 which you can visit below the home.
Stone Bell Address: Old Town Square #13. Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-8pm; Closed Monday. Gallery Cost: 120 CKZ. House Website: Here.
16. House at Golden Ring:
About House at Golden Ring: First built in the 1300s, the famous House At Golden Ring was a pub before being rebuilt in 1609. The Gothic doorway arch was preserved during the reconstruction and the home now holds exhibitions from the Prague City Gallery (website).
The name comes from the beginning of the 1700s when the owner of the House At Golden Ring believed a ghost was haunting his home and constantly bothering him. He claimed that on one of the nights of terror the ghost left behind a mysterious golden ring. Taking the ring as a sign, the owner decided to hang it above his door to block evil spirits from entering and it is said that the spirit never bothered him again. To find the house tucked into the corner of the Týnská Square, just look for the large gold ring still hung above the door.
Gallery Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm; Closed Mondays. Gallery Cost: 120 CZK. Gallery Website: Here.
17. Ungelt Courtyard:
About Ungelt Courtyard: From the 1000’s through the Middle Ages the hidden Ungelt Courtyard (or Merchant Yard) was the main square for foreign merchants coming to sell goods in Prague. The entire market was fortified and foreign merchants would pay customs fees on their goods for protection from the Kings. This guaranteed safety made the market extremely popular. There were good from all of the major trade routes in the market including fabrics, spices, gold, silver, amber, and salt. While the square was often called Týn Courtyard (meaning enclosure) like the neighboring church, the name Ungelt comes from the old German word Um Geld meaning declared goods or customs payments.
Our favorite building in the Ungelt Courtyard is the huge Granovsky Palace which has Italianate loggia-style arcades and an etched Renaissance relief on its facade. The faded sgraffito etchings, originally from 1558, are very interesting as they depict the Judgement of Paris from Greek Mythology. In the tale, Zeus is asked to judge the beauty between the three goddesses Hera, Athena and Aphrodite during a wedding reception. Feeling uneasy about having to choose Zeus decided to leave it up to a mortal Trojan man named Paris. After being tempted by Aphrodite’s sexuality, Paris chooses her as the most beautiful instead of Hera who was normally considered the prettiest. Athena, who would have lost anyway, took it personally that the Trojan was tempted and took it out on his people by joining the Trojan War to help the Greeks win.
Make sure to check out guesthouse at #6 which is known as At the Black Bear and has a statue of a bear in chains. Notice the Black Double Eagle Coat of Arms on the green on the cafe and guesthouse at #8? It is the coat of arms for the Austria-Hungary Empire which ruled Bohemia from 1867 to 1918. While no longer a market, the courtyard is a favorite among locals with it popular bars and restaurants, many of which are just below street level. We really like the Dubliner Irish Pub (website) below Granovsky Palace and the Ungelt Jazz Club (website) at #2 which was once the home to one of King Rudolph II’s mistresses, Katerina Stradova. We find that Ungelt Courtyard usually has some of the best value guesthouses in Old Town including the Merchants’ Yard Hotel (website). Make sure to search the Courtyard for the neat hand pump drinking fountain well which is a really cool place to fill up your water bottle. The current cast iron pump is only from the 1900s, but the well has been used continuously since the 1100s.
18. Saint James Church:
About Saint James Church: Also called Saint James the Bigger, this massive church is the 2nd largest in town behind Saint Vitus Cathedral located at Prague Castle. We love the three stucco Baroque-style reliefs above the front doors which date back to the 1600s. The reliefs show Saint James, Saint Francis of Assisi, and Saint Anthony of Padua. The enormous artistic accents have hidden gold flair and are almost bigger than the doors are.
As you enter Saint James Church, make sure to notice the 400-year-old mummified forearm hanging on display from the ceiling just inside the doors. It’s said that a thief tried to steal jewels from the Church’s altar when the Virgin Mary statue grabbed him with an unbreakable grip. The next day the thief was found still in Mary’s grasp, and they had to cut off his arm to free him. The rest of the interior has some wow factor also. We like the paintings at the base of the columns which are set up like dark altars and the impressive murals that span the entire length of the ceiling.
19. Medieval Spider Bar (Krcmaupavouka):
About The Spider Bar: Welcome to the true Medieval times at the amazing Spider Bar. As you enter the old world cave-like establishment the decor and costumed staff make you feel like you’ve stepped back into time. In addition to food, wine, and beer, you’ll also have the chance to be entertained by swordsmen, musicans, flame jugglers, snake charmers, and belly dancers. If you came to Prague to get a feel for its Medieval flair, this will end up being your favorite spot in town. Make sure to do whatever you have to do to fit a dinner at the Spider into your schedule.
Hours: Daily 11am-11:30pm. Dinner Show: Happens nightly 8-10:30pm and for 1190 CZK you get a great seat for the show, a 5-course meal, and all you can drink. Location: Inside the covered walkway just off Celetná, address is Celetná 595/17. Spider Bar Website: (HERE).
20. Celetná Lane:
About Celetná Lane: Since the Middle Ages, Celetná Lane has been a prestigious location as it connected the Royal Court in Republic Square near the Powder Tower to Prague’ s Old Town Square. It is named after the street’s numerous bakeries that made bread rolls called Calty since the 1200s. Celetná Lane was essentially the Eastern section of the Royal Way used by the King to go from the Royal Court, through Old Town Square, through Little Square, over Charles Bridge and up to Prague Castle.
The most famous buildings on Celetná Lane is the huge Saint Charles University (Karolinum) complex which has an entrance in the pink building toward the start of Celetná. The school was founded in 1347 by King Charles as the oldest university in the Holy Roman Empire and also the oldest in Europe North of the Alps. Make note of house #27 which is where the Knights Templar used to hold secret meetings in the 1300s. Even after the Royal Court was officially moved to Prague Castle in 1488, Celetná Lane has remained vibrant despite local folklore of numerous ghosts that wander the street at night.
Further down Celetná Lane is another famous building called the Black Madonna (website) which opened in 1911 as Prague’s first Cubist style home. In many cities, Cubism as an art form dealing with objects and paintings, but Cubism in Prague is dedicated to the designed of entire buildings. Today the Black Madonna has a restaurant and Cubist Museum (website), not to mention a really cool warped staircase that you have to see. If you climb up to the 3rd floor you can get a great shot looking straight down the artistic staircase.
The road just South of the Black Madonna called Ovocný Street used to be quite grand, but has become bland over time. The only remaining cool building down Ovocný Street is the House At the Czech Eagle which is the awesome bright yellow building with interesting murals and a large 2nd story bay window.
21. Powder Tower (Prašná Brána):
About The Powder Tower: In 1091 Old Town Prague was officially established and it didn’t take long for defensive fortifications to spring up. The first element added was a large moat circling the young Prague following the path where Na Příkopě Street sits today and was followed by a mighty wall just inside the moat. The early Medieval wall was complete with 13 city gates including the important Mountain Tower (Horská brána) known today as the Powder Tower. This gate was important because it was right next to the King’s Royal Court (today’s Municipal House) and also because it was the start of the hilly road to Kutná Hora where the royal silver mines were. The Mountain Tower also marked the start of the Royal Way which stretched West from the Royal Court, down today’s Celetná Lane, through Old Town Square, and up Kaprova Street all the way up to the historic Prague Castle. Re-reading this paragraph after looking at our free Old Town Prague walking tour map will really help you understand the early city’s layout.
Things at the Mountain Tower changed a lot in 1348 when King Charles IV established New Town making the moat and wall around Old Town unnecessary. By the early 1400s locals started calling the tower the Shabby Tower as it and other landmarks started to fall into disrepair. The crumbling monuments started getting facelifts when King Vladislaus II took over including a complete rebuild of Mountain Tower in 1475. The new tower was a whopping 213 feet tall and covered in tons of decorative statues showing Prague’s power. The King didn’t stop there as he also greatly renovated Prague Castle and in 1488 permanently the Royal Court up to the remolded castle. Just two years later Vladislaus II was also crowned King of Greece and Hungary where he spent the rest of his days. With Prague’s Royal Court move to the castle, the empty Mountain Tower was used to store random stuff until it became one of Prague’s main gunpowder storage units in the early 1700s which led to the name Powder Tower.
The Prussian Army saw how important the power storage tower was and heavily damaged it with gunfire during a failed attack in 1757 ruining most of the statues. It took over 100 years for repairs to be made to the tower when it finally got its current Gothic look in the 1880s. During the restoration, they were able to save a number of the original sculptures including 4 representing past Bohemian Kings including Charles IV surrounded symbols from the region they ruled. If you have time take the 186 steps 144 feet up to the former gunpowder storeroom for some great views of Old Town Prague and a permanent exhibit about the Tower’s history. Before leaving the Powder Tower, make sure to check out the beautifully painted facade of the neighboring Municipal House (website) which was built as an exhibition hall on the site of the former Royal Court in 1905. Today Municipal House hosts a lot of events from plays to concerts and its exterior murals are very photogenic.
Powder Tour Hours: Daily April-September 10am-10pm; Closes at 8pm in October & March; November-February closes at 6pm. Powder Tower Cost: Entrance is 90 CZK. Municipal House Tours: 1 hour guided tours are 290 CZK.
22. Saint Henry’s Tower (Jindrisska Brána):
About Saint Henry’s Tower: The 10 story Saint Henry’s Tower is Prague’s tallest free-standing belfry tower at 223 feet high. It was built in 1472 and the large clock was added in 1577. The tower has 3 large bells with the oldest bell dating back to 1518 and the biggest weighing over 7,000 pounds. If you are lucky on your timing, these three historic bells go off at 9am, noon, 3pm and 6pm. The top-level area also offers a great view of the city, the 7th & 8th floor has a decent restaurant with a good view, the 6th floor has an exhibit on the tower and a gift shop. An elevator saves you a long climb of the steps. Next to the huge tower, the neighboring Saint Henry’s Church is an excellent Gothic-style stone church built in 1348.
If you haven’t already done so consider popping over a half of black toward the Train Station the amazing and colorful Jubilee Synagogue located just one block away. Even just a quick peek at the synagogue’s exterior is a treat, but the inside is also very unique. Saint Henry Tower Hours: Daily 10am-6pm. Tower Website: (HERE).
23. Na Příkopě Street:
About Na Příkopě Street: Following the path of Prague’s former Medieval moat, Na Příkopě Street is a modern tree-lined boulevard with great shopping opportunities. The moat was slowly filled in after New Town was established in 1348 making the old moat and wall that surrounded Old Town Prague unnecessary. If you have been to Vienna, Austria you’ll notice now Na Příkopě feels a lot like the Ringstrasse which was also built on the path of its own former Medieval wall.
Because Na Příkopě street is a bustling avenue full of distractions, you have to make sure to keep an eye out for its hidden gem. Spanning the entrance to Nekázanka Street are a twin set of beautiful enclosed bridges which resemble the Bridge of Sighs in Venice Italy. We really haven’t been able to find much more information out on the elevated twin corridors yet, but they are very cool.
Further down Na Příkopě, religious history lovers will want to take note of the Church of the Holy Cross. This church once held one of only 40 authenticated copies of the famed Turin Shroud. The Shroud was given to Bohemia by the Archbishop of Turin, Italy in 1651. While it has since been moved to a Benedictine monastery in Broumov, also known for its mummies, it remained the only copy of the Shroud held North of the Alps.
24. Museum of Communism:
About The Museum of Communism: After nearly 400 years of Hapsburg rule (1526-1918), the people of Czechoslovakia quickly found themselves under 50 years of oppressive Communist rule (1948-1989) following WW2. During their reign, the Communists arrested over 200,000 Czechs, shot 327 of them, and terrorized many more. The Museum of Communism highlights the horrors through photos, videos, and examples of propaganda. Our favorite is the gallery on the peaceful Velvet Revolution that united the people and forced out Communism in 1989.
Hours: Daily 9am-8pm. Cost: 290 CZK; Kids under 10 free with Adult; Student and Family tickets available. Museum Website: (HERE).
25. Estates Theater:
About The Estates Theater: Standing alone in the middle of a square, the historic Estates Theater opened in 1783. Among the venue’s accolades, in 1787 Mozart conducted the world premiere of Don Giovanni here and in 1983 the movie Amadeus was filmed here. Because most of the others have burned down, the Estates is one of the last remaining wooden opera theaters from its era in the world.
Before leaving the theater, make sure to check out the bronze cloak statue near the entrance by the famous Czech sculptor Anna Chromý called the Cloak of Conscience (artist website). The hallow cloak figure is part of a larger series which also has variations housed in Athens, Salzburg, Monte Carlo, the Vatican and over a dozen other cities. Her coolest version is made out of stone which is the largest statue ever carved out of Carrara Marble and can accommodate 2 people standing inside it. Chromý’s Cloak of Conscience 1st appeared in a painting she made which was inspired by Mozart’s play Don Giovanni, so the Estates Theater is a fitting place to have a copy of the statue. In the painting, a nude female body representing the vibrant beauty of youth lays in contrast to an empty piece of clothing belonging to an old woman weighed down by suffering and the cares of a long life.
Theater Website: (HERE).
26. Havel’s Market (Havelský):
About Havel’s Market: Sitting in an alleyway type road with covered stalls, Havel Market has tons of fresh fruit, vegetables, crafts, and souvenirs. The market dates back to 1232 and is named after Václav Havel who was the last President of Czechoslovakia (1989–92) and the first President of the new Czech Republic (1993–2003). He was an author and leader in Human Rights in the 1970s which got him in jail, but his role in the peaceful Velvet Revolution against Communism in 1989 led to his Presidency. Havel is widely known for bringing Democracy to the Czech people.
At the Southwestern end of the market is Uhelný Trh Square which was the Coal Market back in the day. In the middle of the old Coal Market is a small but cute fountain from 1797 showing a boy and girl playing with fruit under a tree.
Market Hours: Daily 9am-6pm.
27. Sex Machines Museum:
About The Sex Machines Museum: No you’re not in Amsterdam, there is actually a World-class sex machines museum right in the center of Prague. With an exposition spread over 3 floors are more than 200 mechanical erotic appliances as well as art, clothing, and objects from adult films. A trip to the museum really doesn’t really feel pornographic at all and can be quite interesting. The craziest thing we saw while visiting was a steam-powered mechanical dildo from the 1800s. One of the most popular exhibits shows old erotic films that date back to the beginning of cinema. Two full-length films from 1925 are on display and were said to have been personally made for Spanish King Alfonso XIII.
Hours: Daily 10am-11pm. Cost: 250Czk. Age Requirement: Must be 18 or over to enter. Website: (here).
28. Colorful Medieval Homes:
About The Colorful Medieval Homes: As you re-enter the Old Town Square check out the extremely old homes next to the double Gothic arch that span Melantrichova Street. #27 is known as the At the Ox House, was built in the early-Middle Ages and serves as the base for the arch ways. Even more impressive is the neighboring home at #26 called the Stepanovsky House which was originally built in 1170 and has a door original to the 1500s, houses a Starbucks on the bottom floor today. It may be fitting to stop at get a drink in the beer garden in front of #25 called At the Blue Goose House as it served as a wine shop and tavern throughout the Middle Ages.
Directly across from the At Minute House at #29 lies the At Black Angel which actually has a Gold not Black Angel above the door. It is the former location of Church of St. Michael, housed a Gothic Chapel in the 1400s, and today houses the U Prince Hotel. The Hotel’s Black Angel Bar (website) is probably the coolest bar in town with its cave like but classy appearance although it is a little pricier than the surrounding beer gardens.
Other Sites Near Old Town Prague:
30. Jewish Quarter Walking Tour: Prague Jewish population has been living in the small neighborhood known as Josefov for over 100 years before the City of Prague was even officially established. Over the centuries there have been both good time and conflict that have forged together into a rich Jewish history. Filled with beautiful synagogues, a gnarly cemetery, and many other worthwhile attractions, a walk through the Jewish Quarter in Prague is a very worthwhile couple hours. View This Walking Tour: (HERE).
31. National Puppet Theatre (Marionette): The National Marionette Theatre opened in 1991 inside The Kingdom of Puppets Theatre (Říše Loutek) built in the Art Deco style to perform a marionette version of Don Giovanni. It is a fitting home to the show as Prague is where Mozart premiered Don Giovanni. Theater Website:(HERE).
32. Image Theatre: The Image Theatre is a truly unique experience where dance, storytelling, optical illusions, black lights, neon, and artistry all blend into a seamless collection of showmanship. The troop has been operating since 1989 and have an entire collection of established shows they rotate through their 7 days a week performances. It really is a refreshing twisting on entertainment. Cost: 480 CZK. Hours: Shows are typically at 8pm but they sometimes add a second performance at 6pm. Address: Pařížská 4. Theater Website: (HERE).
33. Jubilee Synagogue: Also known as Jerusalem Synagogue for its location on Jerusalem Street, the Jubilee Synagogue is by far the most colorful and vibrant in all of Prague. This awesome Synagogue was built in 1906 and is as wonderful inside is out making it a favorite among photographers. It gets it name from the 50th anniversary of the rule of Franz Josef I. Its bright pink, blue, and yellow colors gleam on a design that blends Moorish and Art Nouveau architectural styles. It wasn’t until 2008 that this popular beauty finally opened its doors to non-Jews and tourists, but we are glad they finally did. The detailed interior with elegant ceilings, bright colors, and arabesque art will make you feel as if you are in an exotic Mosque in Istanbul. Jubilee is a treat that really will make you feel jubilee and since it is right by the train station you have no excuse not to check it out. Hours: Sunday-Friday 9am-4:30pm; stays open until 6pm April-October; Closed Saturdays for the Jewish Sabbath.
33. Lesser Town Walking Tour: Lesser Town, also known as the Little Quarter fills the Western bank of the Vltava River tucked under the shadow of the historic Prague Castle. Many tourists only briefly walk trough Lesser Town on their way to the Castle and miss out on a bunch of great sights. Our free walking tour of the Little Quarter will help make sure you get the most out of your visit.
34. New Town Walking Tour: In 1348, King Charles IV established New Town Prague which greatly expanded a City that was overflowing the walls of Old Town. New Town is centered around the very long, almost boulevard-like, Wenceslas Square which has an important place it Czech history. It is here where the peaceful Velvet Revolution took place in 1989 which helped to end Communist rule. Within just a couple blocks of Wenceslas Square are a number of great sights that we highlight on out free New Town Walking Tour.
Melantrich building where VÃ¡clav Havel talked to crowds during the Velvet Revolution.