New Town Prague Walking Tour:
Location: New Town Prague (Nové Město)
Cost: Free (optional costs below)
Style: Do-It-Yourself Walking Tour (Self Guided)
Start: National Museum (Muzeum Metro Stop)
End: Bethlehem Chapel
Walking Distance: 1.8 Miles (Plus 2 short metro rides)
Time: 50 Minutes for walk (with sights 4 hours)
Fun Scale: 7.5 out of 10
Prague’s new town is often over looked but it shouldn’t be.
we are working on a complete guide to help you out with a details map
The New Town Walking Tour Sights:
1. Wenceslas Square (Waclavske Namesti): Since long before Prague’s New Town was officially established as a neighborhood in 1348, Wenceslas Square has been the core of the area. In Medieval times the square was the site of a vital horse market called Koňský trh in Slovak language. Where the Northern end of the horse market met Prague’s Old Town Wall there was a huge city gate known as the Horse Gate. This gateway was one of the main entrances into Old Town Prague and its location helped the Horse Market thrive. Make sure to try the traditional sweet pastries called trdelnik while in the Square.
Over the centuries, the Horse Market slowly transitioned into a grand boulevard cutting through the middle of New Town on In 1848 the area was given an official name of Wenceslas Square. King Wenceslas was the the Duke of Bohemia in the early 900s, was loved by the people, and became the Patron Saint of the region after being murdered by his own brother. You will see statues of King Wenceslas featured all around Prague from St Charles Bridge to right in the middle of this square which we will touch on below.
While today the Wenceslas Square is a modern lively commerce center, in the 1900s it was the site of a lot of events that forever shaped Prague. The events started in 1918 when large demonstrations in the Square led to the birth of country of Czechoslovakia out from underneath the 392 years of rule by the Hapsburg Empire. Famously leader Alois Jirásek definitely read the proclamation of independence Czechoslovakia in front of a large crowd in the Square. During the Nazi occupation of Prague, from 1938-45, huge 3rd Reich rallies filled the Square and in 1968 Soviets tanks rolled into Wenceslas as they claimed Prague for the USSR. Just one year later the Czech national hockey team beat the Soviet team twice causing over 150,000 occupied citizens to take to the Square out of joy. Later in 1989 the Velvet Revolution centered around Wenceslas Square which led to an ousting of the Soviets and the birth of the modern Czech Republic.
2. The National Museum: The National Museum is the oldest museum in all of Bohemia and was founded in 1818. The museum is a strong symbol of national pride which now resides in a huge palace-like building constructed from 1885-1891. Capping the Southern end of Wenceslas, the huge building dominates the Square. The museum’s grand central staircase is one of the more beautiful in all of Europe. If you have been to Budapest you’ll notice how similar the stairs inside the Hungarian Parliament, which was also build by the Hapsburgs in 1904, look to the ones in Prague’s National Museum. The popular museum has a ton of good stuff to see housing over 14 million items, but is currently closed until July 2015 for renovations. National Museum Renovations: The main Palace building of the Museum is closed for renovations until July 2015 as part of a 4 year remodel. Still See The Exhibits: The neighboring Cold War-style building is also part of the museum and will be housing some of the National Museum’s exhibits during the remodel. The building was the Federal Assembly of Czechoslovakia during Soviet occupation.; The exhibits are open Daily from 10am-6pm with extended hours on Wednesdays. Museum Website: (HERE).
3. Jan Palach Memorial Cross: In August of 1968 the Soviets took over Prague by force with troops and tanks which rolled into Wenceslas Square. The Soviets had felt threatened the Prague Spring where more and more citizens were expressing freedom of speech so they and they decided to take over. The forceful take over didn’t sit well with many residents including college student Jan Palach. On January 16th 1969, just 5 months after the Soviet invasion, Palach publicly burned himself alive in Wenceslas Square. Jan was instantly seen as a martyr and his grave site in Prague’s Olšany Cemetery quickly became a shrine to others opposed to the heavy handed Soviet rule. Just 1 month after Palach’s death his friend, Jan Zajic, also lit himself on fire in the Square in much the same fashion. As the symbol of Jan Palach’s selfless act continued to inspire the Citizens of Prague the government dug up his body and cremated it to swash the movement.
20 years after Jan Palach lit himself on fire the USSR collapsed in 1989 freeing Prague of Soviet rule which was accompanied by the Velvet Revolution. The people were finally free, Palachs ashes were returned to his original resting place and cross memorial was place at the spot he died. The memorial is a beautiful work that conjures up artist Salvidor Dali as the warped cross almost melts into the pavement. Neighboring plaques on the National Museum building honor both Palach his friend Zajic. Upon his death Palach joined a long list of famous martyrs in Prague’s history including Jan Hus who was burned at the stake in Old Town Square in the 1400s and John Neopomuk who was drown at the St Charles Bridge in the 1300s. You will see monuments to all 3 men around the city.
4. Saint Wenceslas Statue (Svatý Václav): In 1848 the Square before you was re-named after the beloved King Wenceslas who was the Duke of Bohemia in the early 900s. Wenceslas was an influentially King that was widely admired by the citizens for being a strong supporter of the people. The King was brutally murdered by his own brother as part of a power grab which led to his Sainthood. The biggest of the memorials to the former King is the huge 18-foot-tall bronze equestrian in the middle of the square. It was built in stages over a long period from 1887-1924 and shows a strong Wenceslas riding a mighty stead into battle. Surrounding the base of the statue are figures of St. Ludmila on the left, St. Agnes behind her, St. Procopius on the right and St. Adalbert behind him. Saint Ludmila was the grandmother of King Wenceslas who not only raised him, but though him the bible while raising him as a Christian. It was right in front of the statue where Alois Jirásek read the Czechoslovakian proclamation of independence from the Hapsburgs in 1918. Look for the large nearby plaques dedicated to those who died under Communist from 1948-1989.
5. The Beer Factory: The beer factory is one of the coolest drinking experiences you will find. Each table is equipped with a digital bar tender and 4 taps where you can self-serve any of the 15 house brewed beer sections. The taps are powerful enough to serve up to 150 people at once and are cleaned out with an automated system after each pour to clear the lines of the previous beer. The digital bar bar is awesome as it has photos of the beers and descriptions in multiple languages. Not only can each station handle up to 9 separate tabs at once, but you are only billed per ounce of beer so you can actually just sample something without buying an entire pint. The concept of the Beer Factory is one that we feel will catch on in many other cities. Bar Website: (HERE).
6. Lucerna Gallery Mall: Inside the rotunda of the Lucerna Gallery Mall is one of the most unique piece of art in Prague, the Inverted Wenceslas Statue. As a parody of the Wenceslas Statue you’ve just seen, famed artist David Černý piece hangs rotunda’s ceiling and shows the King riding an upside down horse. You’ll see a lot of Černý’s famous works around Prague from the Man Hanging Out near Bethlehem Chapel and the Pissing Fountain in the Little Quarter. If you are curious, the name of this Art-Nouveau style mall which opened in 1920 translates to Lantern Place.
7. Hotel Evropa: This beautiful Art-Nouveau was built in 1889 as the Grand Hotel Sroubek before having its name later changed during Nazi occupation. The hotel is probably best known for its most famous guest Nicholas Winton and his heroic actions. In 1979 Nicolas’ wife Greta found a box in her attic with lists of Jewish children from Prague and letters from their parents, but had no idea why they were there. It turns out that 41 years earlier her husband, then a 30 year old clerk in the London Stock Exchange, saved the lives of 699 Jewish children and Greta never even knew about it. Nicholas had visited Prague in 1938 became concerned about the increasing amount of Jewish refugees and the oncoming march of Hitler’s army toward the Czech capitol.
Through his connections in the British government, Nicholas arranged trains to help children of Prague escape before the Nazis got there and even found them foreign foster homes. In order to find enough foster parents Britain agreed to pay British families a whopping 50 Pounds to take a child in which was a lot back then. Winton set up shop secretly in the Hotel Evropa and Jewish parents quickly showed up to get their kids on the list to safe them. Nicholas managed to get 8 trains out of Prague with 699 children before the Nazis showed up. When the 9th train left on September 3rd is was intercepted and all 250 children were killed ending Winton’s efforts on what was also the same day Britain entered WW2.
In the end the 699 kids that Winton saved sparked the Kindertransport Movement which saved an additional 10,000 children in Europe. After decades without recognition sculptor Flor Kent added a statue of Nicholas Winton seeing two kids off with a suitcase as a memorial in 2009 symbolically at Prague’s train station where the kids departed from. At the other end of the line in Liverpool Street Station in London, Kent installed another statue entitled “Für Das Kind Kindertransport Memorial” which was unveiled in 2003.
*After checking out the tram car cafe and flower staffs near the hotel, work your way up toward the…
8. Golden Cross: The lively pedestrian only end of Wenceslas Square was the sight of the large Southern gate of Old Town Prague’s city wall. The walls and moat once followed the path of Na Příkopě & Narodni Streets, but were removed after the founded of New Town in 1348 as the Prague expanded.
9. Church of Our Lady of the Snow (Farnost Panny Marie Sněžné): It’s said that in the 4th Century the Virgin Mary appeared in a dream of a traveling Roman merchant who told him to build a church where the snow laid the next morning. Even though it was Summer when he awoke there was a small patch of snow where the church now sits and he knew it had to be a place of worship. The 1st permanent church was this one completed in 1397 at 111 Feet tall making it the second largest in the Bohemian kingdom at the time. One of the Churches early priest was Jan Zelivský who was a main force behind Prague’s reformation. He has executed with other Noblemen in 1422 and is part of the Memorial Park next to the Old Town Hall. Church Website: (HERE).
Franciscan Garden (Františkánská zahrada)
Můstek Subway Stop – means Little Bridge
Karlovo náměstí subway stop
including both rides and transfer it will take 10 minutes
10. Charles Square (Karlovo Náměstí): Charles Square was laid out as the largest open space in New Town as the early neighborhood formed and remains Prague’s biggest square. When the neighborhood was established by King Charles IV in 1348, Wenceslas Square served as the horse market and the larger Charles Square served as a huge Cattle Market (Dobytčí Trh). The Square was meant to be the most important in Prague as it saw the addition of New Town Hall and a chapel to house the Holy Roman Crown, but it just never quite became as important as the King had hoped. On New Town’s 500th anniversary the square was renamed after King Charles and by 1860 it was turned into the public park you can relax in today.
11. New Town Hall (Novoměstská Radnice): Has been here since 1377 although rebuilt a couple times
30th July 1419 a crowd of demonstrators lead by Jan Zelivsky demanded that several Jan Hus’ followers should be released from the prison. When the councilors refused to release the prisoners, the outraged crowd burst into the building and threw the Catholic councilors out of the windows. The councilors who survived the fall were beaten to death. This event called the First Prague Defenestration started the Hussite movement asking for reforms in the Catholic Church. This event was the considered one of the major catalysts of the Protestant separation from the Catholic Church that Martin Luther later expanded on. New Town Hall Website: (HERE).
12. The Dancing House (Tančící Dům): Completed by American architect Frank Gehry in 1996, the Dancing House is the most striking piece of modern building in Prague. Known locally as the Ginger and Fred after its builder, the playful exterior of the Dancing House will conjure up images of Salvador Dali’s famous paintings. The building now houses apartments, office space and a nice restaurant. You can climb up to the rooftop Terrence for great views over the river, but we prefer to admire the Dancing House from street level. Dancing House Website: (HERE).
13. Žofín Palace: In 1835 Václav Novotný built a small brick manor on Dryer Island in honor of Princess Sophie (Žofie in Czech). Previously the island only had some workhouses for leather dryers who moved their shops here from the New Town in the 1700s. The manor quickly became the host to many huge concerts and parties including performances by Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Wagner. The rich, wealthy, and powerful flocked to the Palace and the island become known as Slavic Island (slovansky ostrov) after the manor’s owner. In 1884 the city purchased the island along with Žofín Palace and converted it into the current neorenaissance palace with richly decorated interiors and fine halls. Today the impressive ball room is host to concerts, annual dances, and wedding receptions. Palace Website: (HERE).
14. Paddle Boat Rentals: The island is our favorite place to rent a paddle in Prague to get out onto the Vltava River. They have standard paddle boats and even he large swan ones. The last time there were lots of people who brought beer or wine with to make it a self appointed booze cruise. You can also rent boats near the Kristian Marco Riverside Cafe (Stop 16) or at Klub Lávka at the base of Saint Charles Bridge. Average Rental Cost: 150 CZK per hour. Rental Hours: Starts in the morning and goes until around 10-11pm as the many of the boats have lanterns.
15. Prague National Theatre (Národní Divadlo): After 13 years of construction the huge National Theatre opened in 1881, only to burn down 24 months later. Luckily the city came together and quickly rebuilt the amazing building as you see it today and it remains one of Prague’s top show houses. Even if you can’t swing a famous classical production consider stopping for a tour. Guided Tours: Saturday and Sunday between 8:30-11am; Adults 120 CZK, kids 60 CZK; groups tours also available. Theater Website: (HERE).
16. Kristian Marco Riverside Cafe: This easy going riverside cafe with umbrella tables is the perfect way to kick back, have a drink and listen to some live music. Don’t be confused by the Kristian Marco Boat Restaurant further south a long the River, the cafe restaurant sits right where we have the map marker. Often called the Nameless Bar, the cafe’s pier also has some paddle boat rentals. Restaurant Hours: 11am-10pm, live music in the evenings.
17. Kranner’s Fountain: The tall black spire rising above the park around it is a fountain completed by Josef Kranner in 1850. The beautiful fountain was finished with statue of Franz Joseph I, which was removed after Czech declared its independence from Hapsburg Empire after WW1. The Kranner Fountain was rebuilt in 2003 and it is hard to tell that it is replica.
18. Rotunda of the Holy Rood (): Built in the 1000s with Gothic paintings from the 1300s. Some say built in 1190, the Rood is believed to be a piece broken off of the cross Jesus was killed on. Open for mass on Sundays and Tuesdays
One black East of fountain is one of 3 remaining Roman Rotundas and one of Prague’s oldest buildings going back to 1090. It was most likely a private Chapel of someone rich nearby. Has a couple faint paintings from the 1300s including one of the 3 Wise Men and a number of grave headstones from the 1200s.
19. Bethlehem Chapel (): Jan Hus – founder of the Hussite movement – preached here between 1402-1412.
Right by the Chapel on the corner of Husova Street is a cool art piece called Man Hanging Out which literally shows a man hanging by one hand from a beam of the top of a building.
Other Nearby Sights:
20. U Medvidku Beer Hall and Restaurant: Opened in 1466, brewery which you can tour is famous for their X-Beer 33 which is a semi dark that brews for 16 weeks and is 12.6% alcohol. The restaurant has a traditional menu including the most popular dish of larded roast beef with white bread dumplings. Beer Hall Website: (HERE).
21. Café Louvre ():
22. State Opera House (Státní Opera): Opened in 1888, closed under German rule in 1938 and didn’t have plays again until 1992. The interior is one of the best in Europe. English subtitles, opulent inside of gold colors and baroque style, perfect 2nd floor balcony. Guided Tours: Weekend tours for individuals can be arranged at [email protected] Theater Website: (HERE).
21. St. Longinus Church Rotunda (): The smallest and second oldest of the three Romanesque rotundas that have been preserved in Prague. Built in the 900s, given to the Order of Teutonic Knights in the 1200s and re-named to honor St Longinus when New Town was founded in 1351
built at in the late 1100s and is the smallest of the 3 in Prague, it is near St. Stephen Church. It served as the parish to the tiny surrounding village Little Pool as the neighborhood of New Town hadn’t grown up yet.
21. St Ludmila Church (): The remains of St Ludmila now rest in St George’s Basilica
21. Fascism Memorial Monument & Hunger Wall ():