|Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) is the most vibrant area of Prague. It caters for a wide range of leisure and commercial activities. |
As a centre for shopping, entertainment and nightlife, the square and the streets surrounding it are filled with shops, restaurants, bars and cafés, and clubs.
It is also the main area of Prague for commerce and banking, with major banks and currency exchange outlets sited here.
A metro station is located at both ends of Wenceslas Square (Muzeum at the top, Mustek at the bottom), and trams run through its centre.
It is easy to walk from the square to visit all the sights and tourist attractions in the city centre. This accessibility, combined with the facilities on offer, make Wenceslas Square a popular place for tourists to stay in Prague; many hotels and apartments are located in and around the square.
Wenceslas Square is one of the two main squares in Prague (the Old Town Square is the other, and is just 5 minutes walk away).
The square lies at the heart of the New Town (Nové Město), although the word 'New' is misleading: the area was actually laid out by Charles IV in 1348, with Wenceslas Square serving as the Prague horse market.
Measuring 750m by 60m, Wenceslas Square is really a boulevard rather than a square, and can hold up to 400,000 people! Consequently, it is the place in the Czech Republic where Czechs gather to let off steam. Over the years it has been a parade ground for all kinds of organisations and political parties, from anti-communist uprisings to celebrations of national sporting achievements.
Revolution and demonstration will be forever connected with the square - imagine the Nazis marching up the square, the Soviet tanks rolling in, the Prague Spring, and the Velvet Revolution.
At the top of Wenceslas Square is the monumental National Museum, and just off it to the left is the Prague State Opera.
In front of the National Museum is a statue of St. Wenceslas on his horse. Cutting a striking figure, this is good King Wenceslas (Svatý Václav), the patron saint of the Czech Republic, who was murdered a thousand years ago by his brother.
On the ground below this are two plaques commemorating those killed during the communist era. One is dedicated to Jan Palach, who set himself on fire in protest at the Soviet invasion in 1968.
Finally, a piece of local knowledge: St. Wenceslas on his horse is so striking, that 'By the horse' is probably the most popular place in Prague for Czechs to arrange to meet each other. -----------------------------------------------
To explore the sights in Prague, take a Prague tour.