The big monument in the middle of Prague Old Town Square commemorates Jan Hus, one of the most significant persons of Czech history and national identity.
Jan Hus (John Hus) was an influential Church reformer, who eventually got condemned of heresy by the Council of Constance and burned at the stake on 6 July 1415. His death started a period of unrest and wars in the Czech lands, known as Hussite Wars or Hussite Revolution. During those times, the “Hussites” achieved several big victories, often against much stronger enemy armies.
Jan Hus Memorial
Jan Hus Memorial at Old Town Square was erected on 6 July 1915 to commemorate 500th anniversary of his death. The author who designed the statue was Ladislav Saloun. Like Jan Hus’ resistance against the Church in the early 15th century, his persona and his Old Town Square statue became symbols of the Czech nation’s resistance against foreign rule over the Czech lands (including the Habsburgs, the Nazis, the Russians and communism).
Jan Hus Day National Holiday
6 July (the day when Jan Hus was burned in 1415) is a national holiday in the Czech Republic.
It is a very popular holiday – not necessarily because of Jan Hus, but mainly because its timing at start of summer and because there is another holiday on the preceding day – 5 July, which commemorates Saints Cyril and Methodius, “Slavonic Enlighteners” who brought Christianity and improved language and literacy in the Czech lands and other Slavic regions in the 9th century. The two consecutive free days in the first week of July are like a Czech version of July 4th holiday, although for totally different historical reasons than in the US.