Wenceslas Square & The Jewish Quarter

Wenceslas Square & The Jewish Quarter

The history of Wenceslas Square is rich and fascinating. Its history catches you on a visceral level and draws you in even more than Old Town’s history does. This is where the Velvet Revolution took place from November 17 to December 29, 1989. If you remember, what is now the Czech Republic used to be Communist-ruled Czechoslovakia. It was this Revolution that brought Vaclav Havel into the presidency of the new Czech Republic, and it happened with almost no violence. The protests were initially student led and 300,000 people filled the Square each night to protest until the Communist Regime left town. The people of the Czech Republic have a historical precedent for using knowledge over force and it makes for some crazy reading- this section of Prague deserves your research.

This is where the statue of King Wenceslas (yes, the Christmas carol Wenceslas) is located and the architecture in the Square is particularly beautiful. There are the typical tourist shops, some traditional Czech stores, and a mall and movie theatre. The far end of the Square houses the National Museum (not my favorite place, but the building is beautiful) and one of the few truly Communist-era buildings in downtown Prague. It was previously the Czechoslovakia communist parliament building, but now houses a museum that switches out exhibits routinely- the last time I was there, it had a clothing exhibit demonstrating the changes in clothing from the Communist era onward which felt, in equal parts, heartbreaking and bizarre. I didn’t include any info on museum hours or prices simply because I’m not sure it’s the best use of your time in Prague, but if you want the information just leave a note in the comments section.

I’m only going to say a brief word on the Jewish Quarter- you should go, and dedicate some serious time for your visit, regardless of your particular heritage. You can research the sites available here. I would recommend paying the 500 CZK for the Prague Jewish Town Tour which allows you to visit the Maisel Synagogue, Pinkas Synagogue, Klausen Synagogue, Spanish Synagogue, Old Jewish Cemetery, Ceremonial Hall, and the Old-New Synagogue with exhibits at the Robert Guttman Gallery. The tickets (at least when I was there) were good for a week but you can only visit once. You can also buy tickets outside the Spanish Synagogue, or at this website.

Wenceslas Square
Architecture in Wenceslas Square
Artist’s depiction of King Wenceslas inside of a mall beside the Square.

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