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

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.