Top historic sites in Prague

Prague Astronomical Clock

The Prague astronomical clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still operating. It is mounted on the southern wall of Old Town Hall in the Old Town Square. The clock mechanism itself is composed of three main components: the astronomical dial, representing the position of the Sun and Moon in the sky and displaying various astronomical details; &apos ...
Founded: 1410 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Jan Hus Memorial

The Jan Hus Memorial stands at one end of Old Town Square. The huge monument depicts victorious Hussite warriors and Protestants who were forced into exile 200 years after Hus, and a young mother who symbolises national rebirth. The monument was so large that the sculptor designed and built his own villa and studio where the work could be carried out. It was unveiled in 1915 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Jan Hus ...
Founded: 1915 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Church of Our Lady before Týn

The Church of Our Lady before Týn is a dominant feature of the Old Town of Prague and has been the main church of this part of the city since the 14th century. The church's towers are 80 m high and topped by four small spires. In the 11th century, this area was occupied by a Romanesque church, which was built there for foreign merchants coming to the nearby Týn Courtyard. Later it was replaced by an early Gothic Church ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Prague Castle

Prague Castle, dating from the 9th century, is the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic. The castle was a seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia. The Bohemian Crown Jewels are kept within a hidden room inside it. According to the Guinness Book of Records, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world, occupying an area of almost 70,000 m2. ...
Founded: 870 AD | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

St. Vitus Cathedral

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert is the seat of the Archbishop of Prague. Up to 1997, the cathedral was dedicated only to Saint Vitus, and is still commonly named only as St. Vitus Cathedral. This cathedral is an excellent example of Gothic architecture and is the biggest and most important church in Czech Republic. Located within Prague Castle and containing the tombs of many Bohemian ...
Founded: 1344 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Charles Bridge

The Charles Bridge is a famous historic bridge that crosses the Vltava river in Prague. Its construction started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and finished in the beginning of the 15th century. The bridge replaced the old Judith Bridge built 1158–1172 that had been badly damaged by a flood in 1342. This new bridge was originally called the Stone Bridge (Kamenný most) or the Prague Bridge (Pra ...
Founded: 1357 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

St. George's Basilica

St. George"s Basilica is the oldest surviving church building within Prague Castle. The basilica was founded by Vratislaus I of Bohemia in 920. It is dedicated to Saint George. The basilica was substantially enlarged in 973 with the addition of the Benedictine St. George"s Abbey. It was rebuilt following a major fire in 1142. The Baroque façade dates from the late 17th century. A Gothic style chapel dedi ...
Founded: 920 AD | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Old Jewish Cemetery

Old Jewish Cemetery is the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe and one of the most important Jewish historical monuments in Prague. It served its purpose from the first half of 15th century till 1786. Renowned personalities of the local Jewish community were buried here; among them rabbi Jehuda Liva ben Becalel – Maharal (ca. 1526–1609), businessman Mordecai Maisel (1528–1601), historian David Gans (ca. 15 ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Josefov

Josefov is a town quarter of Prague, formerly the Jewish ghetto of the town. It is completely surrounded by Old Town. The quarter is often represented by the flag of Prague"s Jewish community, a yellow Magen David (Star of David) on a red field. Jews are believed to have settled in Prague as early as the 10th century. The first pogrom was in 1096 (the first crusade) and eventually they were concentrated within a wal ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Museum of Decorative Arts

Founded in 1885, the Prague Museum of Decorative Arts is housed in a Neo-Renaissance edifice built from 1897 to 1899 after the designs of architect Josef Schulz. The Museum’s rich collections include decorative and applied arts and design work ranging from Late Antiquity to the present day with focus on European objects, particularly arts and crafts created in the Bohemian lands. The impressive interior of the perma ...
Founded: 1897-1900 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Clementinum

The Clementinum is a historic complex of buildings in Prague. Until recently the complex hosted the National, University and Technical libraries, the City Library also being located nearby on Mariánské Náměstí. The Technical library and the Municipal library have moved to the Prague National Technical Library at Technická 6 since 2009. It is currently in use as the National Library ...
Founded: 1622 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Municipal House

Municipal House (Obecní dům) is a civic building that houses Smetana Hall, a celebrated concert venue, in Prague. The Royal Court palace used to be located on the site of the Municipal House. From 1383 until 1485 the King of Bohemia lived in the property. After 1485, it was abandoned. It was demolished in the early 20th century. Construction of the current building started in 1905 and it opened in 1912. The bu ...
Founded: 1905-1912 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Old New Synagogue

The Old New Synagogue (Staronová synagoga) situated in Josefov, Prague, is Europe"s oldest active synagogue. It is also the oldest surviving medieval synagogue of twin-nave design. Completed in 1270 in gothic style, it was one of Prague"s first gothic buildings. An unusual feature found in the nave of this synagogue is a large red flag near the west pillar. In the centre of the flag is a Star of David an ...
Founded: 1270 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

St. Nicholas Church

The Church of Saint Nicholas was built between 1704-1755 on the site where formerly a Gothic church from the 13th century stood. It has been described as the most impressive example of Prague Baroque. In the second half of the 17th century the Jesuits decided to build a new church designed by Giovanni Domenico Orsi. A partial impression of the original planned appearance of the church at the time the Jesuits chose the in ...
Founded: 1704-1755 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Estates Theatre

The Estates Theatre (Stavovské divadlo) is a historic theatre in Prague. It was built during the late 18th century in response to Enlightenment thought regarding general access to the theatre, and theatres themselves demonstrating the cultural standards of a nation. The Estates Theatre was designed by Anton Haffenecker and built in a little less than two years for the aristocrat František Antonín Coun ...
Founded: 1783 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Wenceslas Square

Wenceslas Square is one of the main city squares and the centre of the business and cultural communities in the New Town of Prague. Many historical events occurred there, and it is a traditional setting for demonstrations, celebrations, and other public gatherings. The square is named after Saint Wenceslas, the patron saint of Bohemia. It is part of the historic centre of Prague, a World Heritage Site. Less a square than ...
Founded: 1348 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Basilica of St. Peter and Paul

The Basilica of St Peter and St Paul is a neo-Gothic church in Vyšehrad fortress. Originally founded in 1070-1080 by the Czech King Vratislav II, the Romanesque basilica suffered a fire in the year 1249 and has been rebuilt in Gothic and later in neo-Gothic style. The basilica features an impressive stone mosaic above its entry, and its twin 58 m towers can be seen atop a hill to the south from along the Vltava Riv ...
Founded: 1885-1903 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Prague National Museum

The National museum was founded 1818 in Prague by Kašpar Maria Šternberg. At present the National Museum houses almost 14 million items from the area of natural history, history, arts, music and librarianship, located in dozens of buildings. Due to major renovations the museum will be closed until 2017. The main museum building is located on the upper end of Wenceslas Square and was built by prominent Czech ...
Founded: 1818 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Cathedral of St. Lawrence

The Cathedral of Saint Lawrence, standing at the top of Petřín hill in the Lesser Town, is a church, which serve as the cathedral of the Old Catholic Church in the Czech Republic. With its altitude of 327 metres above sea level this was the highest place in Prague for a long time. The cathedral is located on a site, where pagan Slavs made their ceremonies and lighted sacred fires and where princess Libuše, according t ...
Founded: 1730-1780 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Wallenstein Palace

Wallenstein palace is the first large secular palace of the Baroque era. The original Palace was built in years 1623-1630 by Albrecht von Wallenstein, Duke of Mecklenburg (1583-1634), who made his name and fortune as the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial forces in the Thirty Years War. Emperor Ferdinand II feared Albrecht of Wallenstein’s calculating mind and had him assassinated in 1634 in the town of Eger (now Ch ...
Founded: 1623-1630 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.