One of the oldest squares in Prague, Old Town Square is a very popular tourist attraction with a significant history. Formerly called the Great Square, it was renamed Old Town Market Square in the 14th century. However, it has been called Old Town Square since the 1890s.
In the 10th century, the historic square served as a large market place and an important crossroads of European trade routes. In 1338, the ruler, Jan Lucemburský, permitted a city hall to be built in the square. Since then, the square has become a local point of the city of Prague.Old Town Square covers an area of 1 hectare. Following the demolition of housing during redevelopment in the 1890s, a new street was created on the northern side. It is now known as Pařížská Street, famous for its luxury fashion boutiques. In 1979, the square was pedestrianised. A few years later, it was completely repaved with cobblestones and new lighting was installed.
GPS coordinates: 50.0879436N, 14.4214692E
Historic monuments and attractions
There are many significant historic buildings in Old Town Square. One of the oldest, whose construction began in the 14th century, is the Gothic Old Town Hall with its tower. Visitors can climb the tower or take a lift to the top. At 60 metres high, it provides a spectacular view over Old Town Square.
In 1410, the Astronomical Clock was installed on the southern face of the Old Town Hall. The clock is a unique technical monument which shows the time, date, Sun position, Moon phases, astronomical cycles, and holy days of the Christian calendar. The Old Town Astronomical Clock is the only clock in the world to show both Old-Bohemian Time and Babylonian Time. Every hour, the twelve apostles appear through the window in turn, and at the end, the bell on the tower rings to finish the spectacle.
Other notable buildings in Old Town Square include St Nicholas Cathedral, the Church of Our Lady before Týn, concert and exhibition hall in the House at the Stone Bell, and the Rococo Kinský Palace which houses collections of the National Gallery. The Jan Hus Memorial stands in the centre of Old Town Square and beside it, Prague’s meridian is marked out on the cobblestones.
Opening hours and admission:
The Old Town Hall
Mo: 11:00am – 10:00pm
Tu-Su: 9:00am – 10:00pm
Admission – adults: 250 CZK, discount admission: 50 -150 CZK, family admission 500 CZK
The Astronomical Clock
Mo – Su: 9:00am – 9:00pm
Church of Our Lady before Týn
Tu – Sa: 10:00am – 1:00pm; 3:00 – 5:00pm
Admission: Free (contribution of 20CZK is recommended)
St Nicholas Cathedral (Old Town)
Mo – Sa: 10:00am – 4:00pm
Su: 12:00am – 4:00pm
House at the Stone Bell
Tu – Su: 10:00am – 4:00pm
Old Town Square activities
Every Christmas and Easter, markets take place in the square. Throughout the year, many other events are staged there, for example, the Prague Festival of Lights in October.
The square offers lots of choices for dining out with its many restaurants and fast food outlets. However, prices are often higher than elsewhere. There are also several hotels and hostels on the square.
Getting to Old Town Square
The closest stop to Old Town Square is Staroměstská: metro A (green line); trams 17,18; night tram 53, and bus 207.
From the Staroměstká stop, walk along Kaprova Street which leads to the square. From Wenceslas Square, it is best to take Melantrichova Street. From Náměstí Republiky, take Celetná Street.