After Prague Castle this is historically the most important site in Prague. It arose on the crossroads of long-distance routes travelled by international merchants, and served as a place both of repose, as well as of exchange, later as a market place. Its importance began to grow from the 11th century. It is assumed that a fortified settlement existed as early as that on the eastern side of the marketplace: the so-called Týn Courtyard be longing apparently to some of the Czech princes where custom-duty on imported goods called ungelt was collected. The name ungelt was later applied to the broad neighbourhood.
From the mid-12th century the marketplace and the access roads leading to it were surrounded by Romanesque buildings. Most of their ground floors are preserved till today as the cellars of present-day buildings, since from the 13th century the terrain of the Old Town continued to be elevated as a defence against the frequent Vltava floods, until it was elevated by today by 2 to 4 metres. In spite of the variety of architectural styles, among which Gothic and Baroque predominate, the Square makes a remarkably harmonious impression. This harmony was not weakened even by the modern buildings on its northern side which, at the beginning of the 20th century, replaced older structures demolished during the clearance of the Old and Jewish Towns. Only the broad intersection with Pařížská Street, and the unresolved space on the site of the former northern wing of the Town Hall destroyed in 1945, are gaps in this otherwise rounded-off, time-honoured enclave of Prague.
The Square used to be primarily a permanent marketplace, but it also saw weekly and annual market events, knightly tournaments, celebrations of all kinds, all sorts of artistic events, etc. The Square was also the site of many crucial historical events, both glorious and tragic. It saw the election of Jiří of Poděbrady as the King of Bohemia in 1458, executions (such as the show execution of Czech noblemen in 1621), fighting and pillorying. Demonstrations, marches and parades take place in the Square even today.
All contents of this website are protected by copyright. Copying, distribution or any other usage of the contents is strictly prohibited without a prior approval of the authors. Breaking of the copyright or an unauthorized usage of the contents of this website can be prosecuted within the civil and criminal trial.