PRAGUE NEW TOWN
The carefully planned New Town was founded by Charles IV in 1348. Twice as large as the Old Town, it was mainly inhabited by tradesmen and craftsmen. During the late19th century its outer fortification were demolished and redeveloped to its present appearance. Today it is not particularly attractive to tourists because of its modernness.
Welceslas Square (Václavské náměstí)
Originally a horse market, it got its present name in the mid-19th century. The Wenceslas Square is the main centre of modern Prague surrounded by shops, cinemas, office blocks, hotels, restaurants and cafés. The 750 m long and 60 m wide square has been the scene of a great deal of Czech history. In 1969 a university student Jan Palach burnt himself to death in protest against the Warsaw Pact invasion and in November 1989 protest meetings against police brutality were held here and led to the Velvet Revolution and the end of communism in Czechoslovakia. In the middle of the square is a monument of St Wenceslas on a horse accompanied with sculptures of four Czech patron saints.
Church of Our Lady of the Snows (Kostel Panny Marie Sněžné)
Intended to be the grandest church in Prague it was found by Charles IV in 1347 but only the chancel was ever completed. The church played an important part in the history of the Hussite movement. It was a Hussite stronghold. Jan Želivský, the Hussite firebrand, preached at the church and was buried here after his execution in 1422. In 1603, the church was restored by Franciscans. Beside the church is the Chapel of the Pasov Virgin (kaple Panny Marie Pasovské) where temporary art exhibitions are held.
Franciscan Garden (Františkánská zahrada)
Originally a monastery garden built by the Franciscans beside the Church of Our Lady of the Snows, nowadays the garden is a peaceful park close to the Wenceslas Square. Some herbs cultivated by the Franciscans in the 17th century have been grown here since 1980s.
National Museum (Národní muzeum)
Founded in 1818 as a regional natural history museum, the architectural symbol of the Czech National Revival was completed in 1890 in a Neo-Renaissance style. It stands at the upper part of the Wenceslas Square and it is more than 70 m high. Its hall, façade, staircase and ramp are decorated with sculptures made by famous artists. Inside of the building are many historical paintings by František Ženíšek, Václav Brožík and Vojtěch Hynais. There are changing exhibitions as well as permanent collections devoted to archaeology, anthropology, mineralogy, natural history and numismatics.
State Opera (Státní opera)
Originally a German theatre, this Neo-Rococo building was designed by famous architects from Vienna and built around 1886 to rival the Czechs' National Theatre. On the pediment of the Classical façade are figures of Dionysos and Thalia. Until 1882 Bedřich Smetana was the director of the theatre, in 1945 it became the city's main opera house.
Church of St Ignatius (Kostel sv. Ignáce)
It is a typical Baroque Jesuit church built by Carlo Lurago, who started in 1665, and Paul Ignatz Bayer. The later added the church's tower in 1687. The church was supposed to impress people with the power and glamour of the Jesuits' faith, so there are lots of stuccowork and statues of Jesuit and Czech saints.
Jesuit College (Jezuitská kolej)
Built by Carlo Lurago and Paul Ignaz Bayer from 1656 to 1702, the Jesuit College occupies half side of Charles Square. Converted into a military hospital in 1773, the Jesuit College is now a teaching hospital as a part of Charles University.
Charles Square (Karlovo náměstí)
Originally a cattle market, the square was founded by Charles IV as the main centre of Prague's new side. It is the largest enclosed square in Prague and one of the largest in Europe. The New Town Hall (Novoměstská radnice), which served to its purpose up to the year 1784, was built between the years of 1377 – 1418. Renovated in 1905 the town hall today is used for administrative purposes, cultural and social events. Another attractions are the Baroque Cathedral of St. Ignatius (Chrám sv. Ignáce) completed in 1670 by Carlo Lurago and the Emause Monastery (Emauzský klášter) founded in 1347. Its extraordinary series of frescos in the cloister are the largest collection of medieval wall paintings outside Italy.
Since the mid-19th century the Charles Square has been a park. Today, it is surrounded by busy roads but with its many statues of Czech writers, scientists and artists, it is still a nice place to sit and relax.
Church of St Cyril and St Methodius (Kostel sv. Cyrila a Metoděje)
Built in the 1730s by Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer and dedicated to St Carles Borromeo, this Baroque church served as a church of retired priests. Closed in 1783 and restored in 1930s, the church was rededicated to St Cyril and St Methodius. It is also remembered as the site of the last stand of the parachutists who assassinated the Imperial Natzi Protector Reinhard Heydrich in May 1942 and fought to their death rather than surrender. A memorial plaque as well as bullet holes made by the German machine guns are on the outer wall on the crypt.
Faust House (Faustův Dům)
Built in the 14th century and owned by the alchemists Prince Václav of Opava, Edward Kelley (16th century) and by Count Ferdinand Mladota in the 18th century, this Baroque mansion is associated with the legend of the devil, Faust.
Slavonic Monastery (Klášter na Sovanech)
The monastery was founded in 1347 for the Croatian Benedictines. Their services were held in the Old Slavonic language, hence its name. In 1446 a Hussite order was formed here. Owned by Spanish Benedictines in the 17th century, the Baroque monastery was taken over by German Benedictines and rebuilt in Neo-Gothic style. Although many wall paintings were damaged during the WWII, there are still some important 14th-century wall paintings to admire.
Church of St Stephen (Kostel sv. Štěpána)
It was founded by Charles IV in 1351 as a parish church and completed in 1401. The Branberg Chapel was built in the late 17th century. There is a tomb of Matthias Braun, a Baroque sculptor. The church's main attraction is a beautiful Gothic panel painting of the Madonna dating from 1472.
Church of St Ursula (Kostel sv. Voršily)
This Baroque church with lively Baroque paintings on the altars was built as a part of an Ursuline convent in the 17th century. The original sculptures are still present on the facade, in front of the church are statues of St John Nepomuk. The church has been returned to the Ursuline order and has become a Catholic school.
National Theatre (Národní divadlo)
Funded entirely by private donations and created by the most important artists of that era, the Neo-Renaissance National Theatre has always been an important symbol of the Czech cultural revival. Opened in 1881 with the opera “Libuše” by Bedřich Smetana, the architect Josef Zítek's masterpiece burned down two months later but it was founded again and restored within two years. The stage curtain is the work of Vojtěch Hynais, the ceiling paintings are by František Ženíšek.
Today, the theatre is used for ballet and opera performances, as well as drama.
The New Stage of the National Theatre was built by architect Karel Prager in the 1970s from Cuban marble plates and glass. It houses Laterna Magica , one of Prague's best-known theatre groups.