Sloping through the middle of the city and presided over by an impressive statue of the Patron Saint of Bohemia, lies one of Prague's most important living museums, Wenceslas Square. Prague's natural meeting point is at Wenceslas Square, with residents often using the phrase “let's meet under the horse”, referring to the horse that St. Wenceslas sits astride. Prague's legendary Wenceslas Square has been the site of some of the most important and thrilling events in Czech history, especially in the 20th century. Originally a horse market in the Middle Ages, Wenceslas Square - Václavské náměstí or Václavák to locals - received its name in 1848 during the time of the Czech National Revival, and is shaped more like a boulevard than a true square. Long and rectangular and set on a slope, it is perfect as a natural stage for large gatherings, with most major events having taken place at the uphill, or south-east, part of the square. In 1918, the proclamation of Czechoslovak independence was read in front of the St. Wenceslas statue by Alois Jirásek. Later the Nazis used the square extensively for mass demonstrations, and 1945 brought the Prague Uprising, when a few of the buildings around the National Museum were destroyed, later to be replaced by department stores. 1968- 1969 saw many interesting developments all happening in Wenceslas Square; it witnessed the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 by the Soviet Union, with their tanks parked outside the museum building, and was the site of Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc's famous suicides by self-immolation in 1969 as a protest to this invasion (today you can see an inconspicuous bronze cross set in the ground in front of the National Museum as a monument to their protests), as well as the Prague Spring, and Czech celebrations of the victory of the Czech national hockey team over the Soviet Union's team in the 1969 Ice Hockey World Championship, and the ensuing vandalism of Soviet-owned businesses on Wenceslas Square, which then served as the pretext for reprisals and the period of “normalization” imposed by the Soviet Union. In 1989, during the world-famous Velvet Revolution, dozens of thousands of people packed themselves into the square for major demonstrations, and Václav Havel and Alexander Dubček famously appeared together on the balcony of the Melantrich building. Today the square is lined with shops and businesses and features the impressive National Museum at the top of the square. There are beautifully tended flowerbeds down the middle, and the tree-lined pedestrian zone leading to Na Přikope street- famous for its great shopping and leading to Náměstí Republiky- at the bottom end. Wenceslas Square sits near the border between Prague 1 and Prague 2. Several tram lines run through the square, and two major metro stations are located at either end of Wenceslas Square, making it the true hub of the city. Nightclubs, bars, and any number of cafes and restaurants liven up the area at night.
Address: Václavské náměstí, Prague 1
Article tags: Eating and Shopping in New Town
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