167 - The eastern side of Staroměstské Square
And the intersections with Týnská Street (in the middle) and Celetná Street (on the right, behind the column). The Church of Our Lady before Týn, a characteristic dominant of the Old Town, was constructed from the 14th to the beginning of the 16th century. In the period starting with the Hussite Revolution and ending with the Battle of the White Mountain it was the stronghold of utraquists, a fact reflected in the gilded chalice which appears in the shield fixed on the building during the reign of King Jiří of Poděbrady. The shield was removed during the re-Catholicisation campaign in 1626 and replaced by a statue of Madonna. On the left we can see the Golz-Kinský Palace built in the years 1755-1765 by A. Lurago to the plans of K. I. Dientzenhofer, with a Rococo facade by I. F. Platzer. The father of Franz Kafka had a small shop on the ground floor of the Palace. The narrow building U Zvonu (The Bell), No. 605, obscured an original Gothic structure discovered and reconstructed in the 1960s. The view of the Church is partially obscured by the building of the Týn School, No. 604, with Renaissance gables and a passage leading to the Church. Adjacent to the school is the mediaeval house U Bílého jednorožce (The White Unicorn), rebuilt many times, most recently in the elegant Late Baroque style with gables which were removed after elevation of the building by one storey. The modern adaptation has preserved the original Baroque front, including the gates. On the right, on the southern side of the Square, we can see in the middle the Štorch House, No. 552, built by F. Ohmann in 1896-1897. The Marian column by J. J. Bendl, the oldest in Bohemia, was erected on the initiative of Ferdinand III in 1650 to commemorate the closing of the Peace of Westphalia.
TWO-PART POSTCARD. PHOTOTYPE. K. BELLMANN, 1900
168 - The southern side of Staroměstské Square at the intersection with Melantrichova Street
The buildings in the picture are all early mediaeval houses with Baroque facades. The first three buildings on the left with arcades all have preserved Romanesque foundations. These are the buildings U Červené lišky (The Red Fox), No. 480, U Modré hvězdy (The Blue Star) with the well-known wine-cellar U Binderů, and finally Na Kamenci, with the shop of A. Horák, one of the best-known Prague fashion firms. The building at the opposite corner housed in the 17th century another of the Old Town apothecaries, while at the time of taking of the picture it housed the shop U Generála hraběte Šlika (The General Count Šlik) of the Imperial Royal supplier, as well as the Army supplier, E. J. Bittner. Among other things it sold uniforms and weapons. It was a prosperous firm as the numerous officers of the Austrian Army had to buy their uniforms at their own expense.
PHOTOTYPE. K. BELLMANN, 1907
169 - The southern wing of Staroměstské Square with the Týn Church
The complex of the Town Hall grew in a very complicated way. Although the Old Town became legally an independent town in the period 1232-1234, it was only in 1338 that John of Luxemburg granted it permission to establish its own Town Hall. The founding structure of the Town Hall was the two-storey Volflin House (the third structure on the left) standing on the Square, which was adjoined by houses of businessmen and stalls of drapers. Simultaneously with elevation of the building began construction of the Town Hall Tower, finished in 1364. In the course of further extension of the Town Hall the stalls were removed and the city gradually purchased adjacent buildings: that of the businessman Kříž (in the middle) and of the furrier Mikš (the first building on the left). Approximately in 1450 the whole complex of buildings was remodelled in Gothic style. The large Renaissance window of the Kříž House dates back to 1525, the Neo-Renaissance front of the Mikš House was constructed in the years 1879-1880.
COLOURED COMBINED PRINT. AROUND 1905
170 - The south-eastern corner of the Old Town Hall with the bay chapel and horologue
The current appearance of the corner is the result of a Neo-Gothic remodelling from the mid-19th century in which the adjoining stalls were removed. The corner chapel with a bay, originating from 1381, was used in 1922 for the Grave of an unknown soldier, removed during the Nazi occupation in 1941. On the southern side of the Tower we can see the famous Prague clock (see picture 113), and the whole southern wing of the Old Town Hall closed off by the crosswise constructed building U Minuty (The Minute), No. 3. It is basically a late Gothic building remodelled in Neo-Renaissance style, and decorated with figural sgraffiti with biblical and mythological topics. Superimposed on the sgraffiti was a Baroque facade which can still be seen in the picture. The sgraffiti were discovered in 1905 and restored in 1919.
FOUR-COLOUR AUTOTYPE. MINERVA, AROUND 1914
171 - The Krenn House
The Krenn House in the north-western corner of Staroměstské Square which until its demolition in the period 1901-1902 obscured the Church of St Nicholas. The originally three-storey mediaeval building was in 1409 owned by F. Neugrünner from Cheb. And it was after him that the structure was named the Grünhaus. In the course of time the pronunciation got distorted until it ended up as Krenn House (sometimes spelled Kren). In the second half of the 16th century the building was remodelled in Renaissance style by O. Flanderka who also owned it. At the beginning of the 18th century the building received its final Baroque appearance. During this reconstruction the structure was also elevated by one storey and the original arcade covered by an additional structure. The picture comes from the period of clearance, and was taken precisely in the moment when removal of the eaves was begun. The posters on the ground floor anounce the moving of the local shops. On the left we can see the Old Town Hall, on the right the corner of the newly built Schier House on the corner of the future Mikulášská Street.
PHOTOGRAPHIC POSTCARD. PICTURE 1901. Z. REACH, 1920s
172 - The Old Town Hall, the Marian column and the Krenn House, as seen from Celetná Street
In the middle we can see the intersection with Radnická Street, on the right the intersection with Mikulášská Street. The residential Krenn House, standing between these two intersections, was one of the largest Baroque houses in Prague, and at one time even served as a passage. The ground floor was on all sides lined by shops. The picture makes it clear how continuous the buildings in the north-eastern part of the Square were. Demolition of the bulky Krenn House in 1902 led to disruption of the holistic architectural conception of this space and, as a result, of the whole architectural order of Staroměstské Square. We can see that the space is still lit by gas lamp-posts, in the middle of the picture is a carrier with his cart covered with canvas, and in the foreground we can see the separating tram tracks leading here from the one-track line in Celetná Street.
COLOURED PHOTOTYPE. LEDERER & POPPER, AROUND 1900
173 - The north-western part of the Square with intersection with the newly arisen Mikulášská Street
Following demolition of the Krenn House, the Church originally conceived to fill the enclosed space between the rear wings of the Krenn House and the Town Hall block, suddenly appeared directly in the Square. The Church was built by K. I. Dientzenhofer in the years 1732-1737, and was a part of the Benedictine Convent until its abolition in 1787. The building was turned into a warehouse, later it served as a concert hall. From 1871 till the First World War the Church was used by the Orthodox Church, and in 1920 it saw founding of the Czechoslovak (Neo-Hussite) Church. The Schier house on the corner, new No. 934, built in the years 1896-1897, was the first new building constructed in the clearance area of the Old Town. The Baroque palace, No. 935, a work by G. A. Santini, in popular parlance called Lisovský or Desfourský, originally standing on the corner (almost adjacent with the Church), had to make way for the new Mikulášská Street.
PHOTOTYPE. AROUND 1902
174 - The northern side of Staroměstské Square
On the left we can see a part of the already completed structure of the Schier House. The further three buildings, originally mediaeval, remodelled in Baroque style after the 1689 fire, the Goltz House, U Stříbrné hvězdy (The Silver Star), and U Tří mouřenínů (The Three Moors), Nos. 933-931, were demolished in 1899. At the furthest right we can see a part of the still extant Pauline Monastery. The turn-of-the century clearance in this part of the Square caused unnecessary damage to many valuable pieces of architecture which were replaced by new buildings. It is worth noting the difference between the horizontal and vertical organisation of the old buildings with organisation of the new buildings, as well as conversion of the small lock-ups into ostentatious shops (see the following picture). The famous author of the plastic model of Prague, A. Langweil, had his lithographic workshop in the Goltz House in 1819.
175 - The new buildings on the northern side of Staroměstské Square in 1901
They became a hot topic of discussion for several years. The first designs for the new buildings were submitted in several varieties of style. The eventual winner was the Baroque style which was believed to best fit the existing architectural pattern of the Square. On the left we can see a part of the Schier House, new No. 934, built in the years 1896-1897 to the original plan of O. Materna, and revised by R. Kříženecký, further the building of the Prague City Insurance Company, new Nos. 933-931, designed by O. Polívka and built in the years 1899-1901 on the site of three houses. The architect divided the front into two parts, and in the narrower part (in the middle of the picture) imitated the facade of the former building, No. 932. In this way he preserved the vertical organization of the original building, and by running the cornice above the fourth storey, he made the height of the structure conform to the height level of the whole Square.
PHOTOTYPE. K. BELLMANN, 1901
176 - The intersection of Dlouhá Road with Staroměstské Square
The Baroque building U Slona (The Elephant), No. 609, standing in this locality, fell victim to widening of the street. Its new appearance with a bay and arcade (in the middle of the picture) was designed in 1904 by J. Koula. The neighbouring Baroque building Zlatý kříž (The Golden Cross), No. 608, was also demolished on this occasion and rebuilt in almost its original form by R. Klenka. The narrow structure, No. 607, was adjoined with the Golz-Kinský Palace (a part can be seen at the furthest right) as early as 1835. On the left we can see the hefty Baroque building of the former Pauline Monastery built towards the end of the 17th century, probably by P. I. Bayer. Following abolition of the Monastery at the end of the 18th century, the building housed the Prague Mint, which marked its products with the letter C. This building is the only building in the northern section of the Square saved by protests of the Club for Old Prague, and eventually not included in the clearance plan.
PHOTOTYPE. K. BELLMANN, 1907
177 - The northern Neo-Gothic wing of the Old Town Hall
The originally Gothic building was remodelled in Neo-Classical style towards the end of the 18th century and remained extant until the 1830s when it was demolished. Construction of a new northern wing to the plan of P. Nobile was stopped by the Emperor himself shortly before its completion in 1840. He had apparently been convinced by the public protests which viewed the new building as objectionable. Reconstruction of what had already been built was entrusted to the Viennese architect P. Sprenger who completed the northern wing with a Neo-Gothic front in 1847. Towards the end of the Second World War this part of the Town Hall was hit by German tanks and completely destroyed. The 1947 architectural competition for restoration of the Town Hall failed to bring any satisfactory results, and the site has remained empty to this day. It was in this section of the Square that the first electric lighting of Prague was tried out by the inventor F. Křižík. In 1883 he installed seven of his hanging lamps here for a four-week period.
178 - A part of the southern side of Staroměstské Square and the Church of Our Lady before Týn
The row of the burgher buildings with arcades and Neo-Baroque fronts dates back to times of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. On the right we can see the house U Modré hvězdy (The Blue Star), No. 479, known for its storehouses of wine as early as the 16th century. It also housed popular Binder wine-parlour. The neighbouring house U Červené lišky (The Red Fox) housed five large commercial firms. A further two buildings, U Zlaté koruny (The Golden Crown) and U Bílého anděla (The White Angel) with a textile shop of S. Kynzl were destroyed towards the end of the war in 1945, and during repair connected into one. Beyond these two buildings is the intersection with Železná Street. On its corner we can see the house U Zlatého jednorožce (The Golden Unicorn), No. 548, noted for the fact that it was with this building that the first numbering of the Old Town houses in 1770 began. In 1848 The Golden Unicorn housed the Music School opened by the composer B. Smetana.
COLOURED PHOTOTYPE. M. REICH, 1910
179 - Celebration of Christ’s Resurrection in Staroměstské Square
Which was one of the numerous occasions popular with soldiers (on the right) and members of the Prague Citizens’ Guard (on the left and in the background). The history of this corps dates back to times of founding of the New Town when Charles IV ordered all bowmen and crossbowmen to accomodate themselves in the towers of the new city ramparts. From then onwards the armed civil corps, functioning as a Home Guard, existed under various names with only a few interruptions. The Home Guard made a name for itself in the defence of Prague against the Swedes in 1648, in the years 1742 and 1744, during occupation of Prague by the French, Bavarian and Saxon armies, and then against the Prussians. Towards the end of the 19th century this Home Guard, called now the Citizens’ Guard, included grenadiers, infantry, marksmen and a cavalry squadron, altogether 1,430 men.
PHOTOGRAPHIC POSTCARD. AROUND 1907
180 - Firemen in front of the northern wing of the Old Town Hall
Also on the occasion of a Resurrection celebration, shortly before the First World War. Judging from the inscription on the ribbon of the flag, these firemen came from environs of Prague. The picture shows that modern technology was making its way into this field. While the fire-engines are still drawn by horses, the ladders and the men have been transported by the Prague-produced Praga vehicles. The first professional fire brigade was founded in Prague in 1853 and had 30 men. Till then fires were dealt with only by volunteer fire-fighting bodies. Prior to 1866 a fireman’s duties also included such municipal chores as cleaning streets or transporting injured people. The year 1872 saw the introduction of the Czech tongue as the language for delivering orders (instrumental in creating the Czech fire-fighting terminology was the legendary Sokol leader Dr. M. Tyrš). At the turn of the century, the Prague City Fire Brigade consisted of 138 members. The Old Town firemen had their depot in the Municipal Courtyard (see picture 146).
PHOTOGRAPHIC POSTCARD. PHOTOGRAPHER PROBABLY R. BRAUNER-DVOŘÁK. AROUND 1912
181 - Remnants of the Marian column in November 1918
On November 3, 1918, a large, socialist-inspired demonstration took place on the White Mountain, then outside the Prague City limits, to commemorate memory of the fatal battle that took place here in November 1620. On their way back to Prague some of the participants gathered in Staroměstské Square and tore down the Marian column they viewed as a symbol of 300 years of unloved Habsburg rule. The enraged demonstrators, encouraged by the well-known Bohemian writer and friend of the famous satirist J. Hašek, F. Sauer, could not be stopped by representatives of the Town Hall or anyone else. The painter and fighter for the protection of old Prague, Z. Braunerová, laid a wreath on the ruins which had the inscription "I protest!" The picture was taken immediately after the barbaric act. The chatting crowd already views the work of destruction without emotion, but with typical Prague curiosity. Remnants of the statue were deposited in the Lapidarium in the Prague Exhibition Area.
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