Prague Old Town (Stare Mesto)
Old Town (Stare mesto in Czech) is the oldest part of Prague and the main (though not the only) tourist area. It is situated on the right bank of the Vltava river.
Interesting Places in Prague Old Town
Old Town naturally has the highest concentration of historical monuments and tourist attractions. The main centre of this entire district is of course the Old Town Square (Staromestske namesti), where you can also find the Old Town Hall (Staromestska radnice) with its famous astronomical clock, as well as two important churches – Our Lady before Tyn church and St. Nicholas church. Another well-known attraction is the Charles Bridge, which links Old Town and Mala Strana (Lesser Quarter) and Prague Castle on the other side of the river.
Major Streets in Prague Old Town
Most of the district’s main streets run from Old Town Square in different directions. Tourists will be especially familiar with Karlova Street (Charles’s Street), which links the square with Charles Bridge and is the main tourist corridor heading towards Prague Castle. It is actually a very narrow, mostly pedestrian street, full of restaurants, bars and souvenir shops.
On the other side there is Celetna Street, which links Old Town Square with the Municipal House and Czech National Bank. At the end of this street you can find the characteristic Powder Gate.
Another important street is Parizska (Paris Street), which runs from Old Town Square to the north, ending up at Cech Bridge (Cechuv most). This street has a reputation of a somehow posh shopping and dining address, although it lacks a bit of the Medieval atmosphere that many of the other Old Town streets have – partly because it has some (though not too heavy) car traffic.
In general, there is not much traffic in the Old Town and many of the streets are actually too narrow for that. This is also what makes Prague so attractive as a tourist destination. One exception, and the only street with trams in the Old Town, is the one running along the river – although it has different names in different sections – Smetanovo nabrezi (Smetana Embankment) from National Theatre up to the Charles Bridge, Krizovnicka Street from Charles Bridge to Jan Palach Square, and 17. listopadu (17th November Street) up to Parizska Street.
Nevertheless, the best parts of Old Town are actually the small streets and hidden corners not mentioned above. Don’t be afraid of getting lost in Prague Old Town – it is only some 15 minutes walk from one end to another.
Old Town Borders and Neighbouring Areas
The Vltava river forms the Old Town’s natural border in the west and north, but there is another small area stuck between the Old Town and the river in the north-west – Josefov, which most visitors would refer to as the Jewish Quarter. It is technically a different district.
The Old Town borders on the New Town (Nove mesto) in the south and south-east and on the so called Peter Quarter (Petrska ctvrt) in the north-east. The border of Old Town runs (from south to north-east) approximately along the following places and streets: National Theatre, Narodni Street, “My” shopping centre, Jungmann Square (Jungmannovo namesti), the bottom of Wenceslas Square (Vaclavske Namesti), Na Prikope Street, the Municipal House, Republic Square (Namesti Republiky), Palladium Mall, and Revolucni Street.