The heart of ancient Prague, Old Town—or Stare Mesto in Czech—is one of the city’s most visited areas, home to sites such as the astronomical clock and the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn. It’s also a popular starting point for walking tours of the city. Many visitors spend at least half a day exploring the many treasures of Stare Mesto. The Basics
The first settlements developed here in the AD ninth century, around a marketplace that existed on the banks of the Vltava river. As the town grew a moat was built for protection, turning Old Town into an island with the river on one side and the moat on the other. Nowadays, the path of the moat (since filled in) can be traced along Revolucni, Na Prikope, and Narodni streets.
Old Town is home to many major attractions. As well as the astronomical clock at Old Town Hall and the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn with its twin spires, there’s the Jewish Museum, the Powder Gate, the spectacular art nouveau Municipal House, and more. The famous Charles Bridge spans the river from Old Town to Lesser Town (Mala Strana) on the opposite bank. The area is best explored on foot, map in hand, or as part of a guided walking, Segway, or bike tour. In the evening, take an Old Town ghost tour or a tasting tour of the area to enjoy beer paired with typical Czech snacks. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Wear comfortable shoes as there’s a lot of walking involved to see the main sights.
- The astronomical clock performance in Old Town Square happens every hour from 9am to 11pm.
- The entrance to Our Lady Before Tyn can be hard to find—look for the last archway on the left as you’re facing the church.
- Bring a guidebook or a join a guided tour to learn more about the history of the many interesting buildings in Old Town.
- There are many shops, restaurants, and cafes in the area.
Old Town (Stare Mesto) is Prague’s central district, on the right bank of the Vltava river. Staromestska metro stop (Line A) will put you right in the center of Old Town, and numerous trams pass through the area, including #2, #17, and #18. When to Get There
As a city neighborhood, Old Town is accessible 24 hours a day, although most tourist attractions are only open during regular daytime hours. The area can be very busy with visitors during the summer months so plan to explore early in the day for a quieter experience. Visit the Municipal House
On the site of a former royal palace, Prague’s Municipal House might have an ordinary-sounding name, but this building is anything but. Built in 1912 as a place for local people to gather for meetings, concerts, and coffee, it’s a masterpiece of art nouveau architecture and each light fitting, mosaic tile, and door handle was purposely designed to create a harmonious whole.