Posted by: LM | April 7, 2008

Václavské Náměstí: Wenceslas Square

The school I taught at all year was only around the corner from what is probably Prague’s most commercial area. Wenceslas Square is the place to be if you’re a tourist. At one end of the square is the National Museum and the other end leads into Old Town Square and the Charles Bridge. You won’t find much of Prague’s quaint, genuine charm while on the square… but you’ll find just about everything else you could possibly want. The most impressive you’ll see this part of town is at Christmas time. Decorations are everywhere as you walk down the street. It’s really a sight to see and even the biggest Grinch can’t help but smile to see Christmas coating the streets of Prague. Although I wasn’t in the country to experience it, my friends who were in Prague with me last year tell me that there’s no night quite like New Year’s Eve on Wenceslas Square. I’m told it’s much like Time’s Square in New York, but on a much smaller scale.

Wenceslas (yes, from the Christmas song), was the duke of Bohemia from 921-935 AD and is the patron saint of the Czech Republic. After a popular political career, Wenceslas was betrayed by his younger brother who had rallied a troop of rebels. His brother, Boleslaus, invited Wenceslas to a feast in honor of some saints and on the way to the church three of Boleslaus companion’s stabbed Wenceslas to death. Boleslaus then assumed the throne as the next Duke/Prince of Bohemia. Because of his martyr’s death, Wenceslas was declared a saint and is celebrated on September 28th. 

Feeling homesick while abroad? Like much of Europe, Prague’s Wencelas Square is coated with American fast food. There’s nothing like eating a Big Mac while viewing 1200-year-old buildings. And if McDonalds isn’t your thing, there’s a KFC a few feet away. Since I’ve been back in the states, my Czech friends tell me that Starbucks has invaded as well. But the best part of Wenceslas Square? The shopping! It is, hands down, the best place to find awesome clothes. When I got to Prague, no one in America (minus the rich and trendy of NYC) had ever even heard of H&M. Wenceslas Square is where I descovered this garment wonderland. Imagine my thrill when I came home and they started popping up all over the place!

Art is a big thing to the Czech people and the place to go if you want to appreciate all kinds of art and history is the National Museum (pictured in the background of the photo above). Every first Monday of the month, the museum is free to students. If you’re travelling through Prague on one of these Mondays stopping in is a must. There’s every kind of art and tons of old artifacts. It’s not just Czech history and art that’s featured either. There’s a wide range from all over Euorpe and the rest of the world as well. And fear not English-only speakers, everything can be translated.

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