The width of 60m and the length of 700m make the Wenceslas Square look like a boulevard rather than an actual square. It forms the center of Prague and it is – due to its length – one of the largest squares in Europe. On this square, history was made several times throughout the 20th century. Nowadays, the Wenceslas Square remains popular and filled with people from early in the morning until late at night.
The Wenceslas Square in different centuries
The length of the square is due to its original use as a horse market, which took place in the middle ages. This way, the horses could be presented in different styles and movements, and even be fed in a small river in the center of the square. Therefore, the place was called “Steed Market” for a long time.
Not before 1848 the square received its name “Wenceslas Square” – named after the saint Wenceslas, which was the land patron. At the same time, extensive changes were made in the 19th century. Besides the demolition of the city wall, plants and trees were planted, which give the square its boulevard-like look today. The biggest change was probably the freshly built national museum, which has stood at the upper end of square since 1890 and is built in the neo-renaissance style. Shortly after, the Wenceslas monument was added. It was created by Josef V. Myselbek and placed at the upper end of the square too.
From the Prague Spring until Today
In 1968, thousands of people demonstrated peacefully against the violent end of the Prague Spring on Wenceslas Square. In January of the same year, the student Jan Palach burnt himself here in protest against the suppression of Czechoslovakia. The commemorative plaque of this incident can still be seen today. In 1989, Wenceslas Square became the place where the opening of the borders was celebrated happily by several thousand people. President Havel too had his speech about the political change in the country from a balcony on the square.
Nowadays, there are shops, restaurants and cozy cafes on the square, which are all very popular. Both tourists and residents of the city can walk along the square, go shopping or enjoy the lively atmosphere in many different ways.