New Town Prague Image of St Wenceslas statue and National Museum at night Prague Czech Republic

New Town Prague

New Town Prague

New Town Prague, it has to be said, is not exactly new. It was founded in 1348 by King Charles IV of Bohemia, so it’s the youngest of the old areas of Prague from the Middle Ages.

It’s very different in feel to its neighbour, Old Town Prague, and it’s where modern Prague city centre has developed over the centuries.

Prague New Town – Nové Město – is somewhere many first-time visitors don’t get to explore a great deal, as most of the main Prague attractions are located in the Old Town, or across the river in Mala Strana Prague or Hradčany, the Castle District.

The one place most visitors get to see is Wenceslas Square, with its department stores, five-star Prague hotels and the National Museum. Having lived in Prague for over a year, we’ve discovered more in the New Town than in any of the other main areas in Prague, and often return there.

New Town Prague Highlights

  • Wenceslas Square – the iconic heart of modern Prague overlooked by the superb National Museum
  • Discover the centre of Prague nightlife in summer at the riverside bars of Naplavka
  • Staying at the 5-star Art Nouveau Palace Hotel, two minutes’ walk from Wenceslas Square
  • Breakfast at the Café Louvre, where Einstein, Kafka and famous Czech writers would enjoy their coffee
  • Visit the Crypt where the assassins of senior Nazi Reinhard Heydrich made their heroic last stand
  • Lunch at the sumptuous Art Nouveau Café Imperial 

Wenceslas Square

Image of Wenceslas Square Prague at night
Wenceslas Square at night

Visiting Wenceslas Square – Vaclavské Náměstí – is, for many, one of the top things to do in Prague. It’s certainly one of the best places to stay in Prague, with several hotels along its length and excellent transport connections.

Most people come for the shopping or the National Museum (more on which below) and there’s also some great Prague architecture to seek out. Look out for the grand statue of Wenceslas near the top of the Square, just below the Museum.

It can be a little seedy after dark, though I’ve never experienced any problems there. It’s also home to two of the best bookshops in Prague – Luxor and Academia.

National Museum

Image of the NAtional Museum Prague and New Town at dusk
The National Museum and New Town at dusk

The National Museum is spread across ten sites around Prague, and the august domed building at the top of Wenceslas Square is the historical building of the Museum Complex of the National Museum.

This splendid Museum, looking bright and refreshed after a long restoration, is connected with the markedly different New Building next door.

It’s currently hosting an exhibition on Ancient Egypt called Kings of the Sun, and in 2020 had an intriguing exhibition on the Velvet Revolution, some of which took place in the Square outside. One of the best things to see in Prague, but you’ll want to set aside a good few hours.

Lucerna Passage

Image of statue of King Wenceslas on an upside down horse in the Lucerna Passage Prague
David Černy’s famous upside down horse in the Lucerna Passage

The delightful Lucerna Passage is just off Vodičkova and Wenceslas Square. It’s one of the highlights of Art Nouveau Prague, an elegant arcade dominated by a David Černy sculpture of King Wenceslas sitting on an upside-down horse – an ironic nod to the upright one outside in the Square.

There’s also the fine Kino Lucerna, the lovely Café Lucerna and the Lucerna Music Bar, one of the better small music venues in Prague.

Naplavka Prague

Image of the Naplavka waterfront with boat bars in New Town Prague
The bolat bars and restaurants along Naplavka are hugely popular in the warmer months

Naplavka – a stretch of embankment along the Vltava river in Prague between Palackeho namesti and Vyton – is the place to go for Prague nightlife on summer evenings.

It’s lined with boat bars and restaurants and is a great spot to watch the sun set down the river towards Prague Castle. There are also a couple of floating beach volleyball courts moored to the quay.

Naplavka is also busy on Saturday mornings throughout the year as it’s home to the most popular Prague farmers market, where you can find a huge range of Czech produce – and beer – on offer.

Dancing House Prague

Image of the famous Dancing House in New Town Prague
Frank Gehry’s Dancing House – which he called Fred and Ginger
Image of the Dancing House by Frank Gehry in Prague New Town
A closer view of the Dancing House

The Dancing House – Tančici Dum – is one of the first post-Communist landmarks of Prague to appear, completed in 1992. It was originally built for a Dutch bank but no longer used for the same purpose.

It’s partly the distinctive work of Frank Gehry – who was also responsible for the later Guggenheim Museum Bilbao – and you really can’t miss it. It got its nickname from its shape, reminiscent of a man and woman sashaying around a dancefloor.

You can now visit its ground floor café, rooftop bar or indeed stay there, with an outlook over Jirasek Bridge (Jiraskuv most), one of the main bridges in Prague.   

W Hotel Prague Wenceslas Square

Image of the former Grand Hotel Evropa before restoration Prague
The Art Nouveau facade of the Grand Hotel Evropa before restoration

The Art Nouveau Grand Hotel Evropa on Wenceslas Square has long been one of the most attractive buildings on the street, and in 2020 had a big makeover.

It has a new – and very tasteful Art Nouveau façade and the rest of the complex is nearing completion. It will be the new W Hotel Prague, and the latest information is that it will open some time in 2021.

Café Imperial

Much of the 5-star Hotel Imperial was built in the Art Deco era but its stunning dining room – the Café Imperial – dates from around 1914, and is one of the last great fruits of Prague Art Nouveau.

The interior is absolutely exquisite, with ceramic wall tiles and a mosaic ceiling. It’s one of the most beautiful cafes in Europe, and the lunch menu, coffee and cakes are outstanding, as befits such a magnificent venue.

Narodni Divadlo – National Theatre

Image of the National Threatre or Narodni Divadlo in Prague
A distant view of Narodni divadlo – the National Theatre – from below the Charles Bridge

The National Theatre is a sumptuous concert venue overlooking the river. It was completed in 1883, and is one of the great concert halls of Europe, hosting opera, ballet and drama performances.

Velvet Revolution Monument, Narodni

One of the most significant monuments in Prague is also one of the city’s smallest.

This simple memorial to the 1989 Velvet Revolution can be found on a wall on the south side of Národní, a sculpture of hands reaching out, with the date 17.11.1989 inscribed below.

This is at the site of a clash between student protestors and a cordon of riot police, which proved to be the spark of the popular Revolution that ended 41 years of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia.

St Mary of the Snows

Image of the high ceiling vault in St Mary of the Snows church Prague
The soaring vault of St Mary in the Snows

St Mary of the Snows is one of the most impressive Gothic churches in Prague, and the oldest in Nove Mesto Prague.

It’s a little reminiscent of Beauvais Cathedral in northern France, with a soaring high vault (112 feet – 34 metres) but an incomplete building. 

The east end – or chancel – is all that was finished – if it had been completed to original plans it would have rivalled St Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle in size.

Franciscan Garden

Image oif the Franciscan Garden and St Mary of the Snows Church Prague
The lovely Franciscan Garden in summertime

The Franciscan Garden is one of the loveliest Prague gardens, a small oasis of peace, calm, hedgerows and flowers just behind Wenceslas Square.

It offers the best view of St Mary of the Snows Church (see above) and also has one of the best few children’s playgrounds in the vicinity. It’s especially beautiful bet June and August when the rose arches are in bloom.

Cubist Lamp Post

Image of the Cubist lamp post in New Town Prague
Not just any old lamp post – a Cubist work of art

I’m not going to send you off hunting for lamp posts unless they’re pretty special. And this one is exactly that. Cubist art was hugely popular in the early 20th century, whereas Cubist architecture only briefly flourished in Prague and a few other Czech towns.

This extremely rare remnant of built Cubism is magnificent, and can be found just off Jungmannovo namesti, a few metres from the rear of the Bata shoe store.

Prague New Town Hall & Tower

Image of Prague New Town Hall
The 14th century Prague New Town Hall

The New Town Hall Prague dates from the mid-14th century, soon after its foundation by Charles IV. It probably gets but a tiny fraction of the visitors that Prague Old Town Hall gets, which makes it all the more surprising and enjoyable.

You can join guided tours of the Gothic halls throughout the year, and from April onwards the tower is also open, and it’s one of the best viewpoints in Prague with views towards the Old Town and Castle.

The tower also played a major role in Czech history, as it was the location of the first Defenestration of Prague in 1419. A group of Hussite (essentially the first Protestants) priests and followers marched to the Church, and one of them, the priest Jan Zelivsky, was hit by a stone thrown from the building.

The furious mob broke inside and threw several officials from the tower, killing them all. This was a huge factor in the outbreak of the Hussite Wars, which ravaged Bohemia until 1436.

Karlovo náměstí

Charles Square, where the New Town Hall is located, is even larger than Wenceslas Square but is very different in feel.

It’s part busy traffic hub (a major tram junction with a Metro station), part peaceful park.

The extensive gardens are popular with local workers on their lunch break, and are a lovely spot to sit in the shade on a hot summer afternoon.

The second major landmark on the square is the Baroque St Ignatius of Loyola Church  – if you’re keen on photographing Prague, you could do a lot worse than an afternoon shot of the church with a tram passing through the foreground.

Café Louvre

Image of the Cafe Louvre New Town Prague
The elegant interior of the Cafe Louvre
Image of cup of coffee in the historic Cafe Louvre in New Town Prague

Café Louvre is one of the famous traditional Prague cafes, founded in 1902 and frequented by the likes of Albert Einstein, Franz Kafka, writer Karel Čapek and the first President of Czechoslovakia, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk.

It’s on the first floor of a grand building halfway along Narodni, an airy, spacious room in the grand Viennese style. We’ve been there several times – for breakfast, coffee and cake and dinner – and it is one of the best places to go if you’re looking for that authentic historic Prague café experience.

There is also a games room with several billiard tables and our son’s favourite, table ice hockey.

Prague Hlavni Nadraži Station

Image of the Prague Hlavni nadrazi main railway station interior
The Art Nouveau vestibule of Hlavni Nadraži railway station

Praha hlavni nádraži is the main Prague railway station, right on the edge of the New Town. Even if you’re not travelling on from there it’s worth a short visit to see the original Art Nouveau station vestibule, which has long since been superseded by the modern concourse below.

Look out for the sign for ‘Historic Station’ – the half-dome, decorated with coats of arms of the Prague towns and other Czech cities – is gorgeous.

It’s also worth seeking out the poignant memorial to the children of the 1939 Kindertransport trains, which saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Holocaust that followed.

It’s in the underpass leading from the concourse to the platforms, a doorway with prints of children’s hands on the glass. There is also a statue of the hero of the Kindertransports, Sir Nicholas Winton, on platform 1 (nastupište 1). 

Jerusalem Synagogue

Also known as the Jubilee Synagogue, this is one of the highlights of Jewish Prague, located in the New Town less than 200 metres from Hlavni Nadrazi.

It’s full of Art Nouveau exuberance inside and out, full of colour, brightness and rich ornamentation, its many arches Moorish in shape. The early 20th synagogue also hosts an exhibition on the history of the Jewish community in Prague.

Mucha Museum

This Museum is the only museum in the world dedicated to the work of Alphonse Mucha (sometimes spelt Alfons), one of the prime movers of Art Nouveau Prague.

You can also see some of his original work in situ in the nearby Obecni Dům (Municipal House), and he is particularly well-known for his portraits of actress Sarah Bernhardt.

If this is where your artistic interests lie, this museum is one of the best places to visit in Prague. The Museum is on Panská, right across the street from the excellent Art Nouveau Palace Hotel.

Cubist Diamant building

One of the best Cubist buildings in Prague is the Diamant building – Dům Diamant – on the corner of Lazarská and Spálená in the New Town, just down the hill from the New Town Hall. It was the work of architect Emil Králiček, and it’s one of the best examples of its kind in the world, with some fine diagonal decorations, shapes and angular sculptures.

It’s located next door to the Baroque Holy Trinity Church, perhaps a slightly jarring contrast but for the Cubist-styled archway and passageway between the two properties. 

The ground floor is now home to a branch of Budget Books, while parts of the rest of the building need considerable TLC.

Head of Franz Kafka Sculpture

Image of the Head of Franz Kafka sculpture in Prague
David Černy’s Head of Franz Kafka

Not to be confused with the Franz Kafka in Josefov in the Old Town, there is also a much larger representation of the Prague writer behind the Quadrio shopping centre in the New Town, on a side street named Charvatova.

The work of David Černy, it’s 11 metres high and is made up of 42 rotating glass panels. Kafka’s work reflects how he was an oft-tormented soul, and this sculpture also does so. – the constant movement representing his restlessness and disquiet.

Along with his Babies sculptures on the Zižkov TV tower, I think this is one of Černy’s best works.

Museum of Communism Prague

Image of a bust of Stalin at the Museum of Communism in Prague
The ghost of Stalin at the Museum of Communism – the giant statue of him above the river was blown up in 1962

The Museum of Communism is one of three museums in Prague relating to the 1948-1989 period of Soviet-backed – indeed Soviet-enforced – Communist rule.

It is quite informative, and visiting will introduce you to the likes of the heroic Milada Horakova, who lost her life standing up to the one-party state.

The one thing I didn’t get from my visit was any fresh insight into the Communist period – such as why the regime was quite popular at first, and why some older Czechs don’t necessarily think the Velvet Revolution – which brought one-party rule to an end – was such a good thing.

King Henry’s Tower

Image of the view of Prague New Town from King Henry's Tower
Prague New Town from King Henry’s Tower
Image of Prague Old Town Hall Tower and Prague Castle from King Henry's Tower
The view in the opposite direction, of the Old Town Hall Tower and Prague Castle

King Henry’s Tower (Jindřišska věz) is one of the least-known towers in Prague to visit, partly because it’s a fair way from the others, which are dotted mostly around the Old Town and Mala Strana.

The tower – right next to the Jindřišska tram stop – offers views over some of the most famous places in. Prague, with the National Museum in one direction and the Tyn Church, Old Town and Prague Castle in the other.

Cold War Museum, Hotel Jalta

The Hotel Jalta, near the top of Wenceslas Square, is one of the best Prague New Town hotels, and it’s home to one of the most unusual things to do in Prague.

In the event of a nuclear war Wenceslas Square would be Prague’s Ground Zero, and beneath the Hotel is a fully-equipped nuclear fallout shelter which houses the Cold War Museum. If, like me, you’re fascinated by 20th century history, this is a Prague must-see.

SS Cyril & Methodius Cathedral and Crypt

Image of SS Cyril and Methodius Orthodox Cathedral in Prague New Town
The Orthodox cathedral of SS Cyril and Methodius on Resslova
Image of the memorial crypt below SS Cyril and Methodius Cathedral in Prague
The National Memorial to the assassins of Reinhard Heydrich and their accomplices

In June 1942, the acting Reichsprotektor of Bohemia and Moravia, and architect of the Holocaust Reinhard Heydrich, died a week after an attempt on his life in the Prague suburb of Libeň.

The two assassins and their accomplices were eventually betrayed by one of their own, and tracked down by a force of several hundred SS soldiers to the Orthodox Cathedral of Saints Cyril and Methodius on Resslova, just down the street from Karlovo namesti.

The Resistance fioghters eventually retreated to the Crypt of the Cathedral, where they were either killed or took their own lives.

Their heroic last stand against overwhelming odds is commemorated by an exhibition and the Crypt is a moving National Memorial.

See also – The Heydrich Assassination Site, Prague

Masarykovo Nábřeži Art Nouveau Mansions

Image of some of the Art Nouveau mansions on Masarykovo nabrezi Prague
The Art Nouveau mansions – including the Goethe Institut (centre) on Masaryk Embankment

The New Town is where you’ll find many of the finest Art Nouveau Prague buildings, and Masarykovo Nábřeži is a great place to start.

It’s a section of the Vltava river embankment and is endowed with many fine ±rt Nouveau mansions, making it one of the most attractive Prague streets.

Some of the most impressive buildings include the Goethe Institut and Hlahol Building, the latter home to one of the oldest choirs in the country.

Pretty Slovansky Island and the yellow Renaissance Revival Zofin Palace – a venue for concerts, banquets and the like – are a few metres’ walk away across a bridge.

Manes Art Gallery

The Mánes Art Gallery is one of the best exhibition spaces in Prague,  an early 20th century functionalist building with views onto the river and Slovansky Island.

It’s one of the most intriguing places of interest in Prague, and usually hosts visiting exhibitions for months at a time. It hosted an excellent Banksy retrospective over the summer of 2020, but has remained quiet since.  Hopefully it’ll be open again soon.

Palackeho Náměstí

Palacky Square is named after František Palacky, a 19th-century historian considered to be one of the Fathers of the Czech Nation. His works helped raise Czech national consciousness at a time when they were still under Habsburg Imperial rule.

His slightly severe Art Nouveau statue and surrounding supporting cast dominates the Square, which is another busy tram hub where several routes converge.

Continue to the small park down the steps and around the corner to the Emmaus Monastery, one of the lesser known sights in Prague, with its modern twisting towers and gorgeous medieval cloister.

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David Angel
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing Europe for over 25 years.  His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times.
Articles: 191

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