We ventured out to go to one of the Christmas markets to find it had snowed overnight, our first snow of this trip. We’re off to visit the market at the old town square, but since we got up late we stopped at the Flora mall across the street to get something for a snack.
After lunch, we walked a short distance to the metro, having bought 24 hour passes at the hotel, and then about five stops to the old town square. We visited the city and this square in 2016 and there are photos and narratives from that trip here and here. The street we walked down to get to the market is named Pařížská , translated as “Paris”. The street has some interesting Art Nouveau buildings and is lined with stores from all of the top fashion and luxury brands.
It’s Saturday and the crowds at Staroměstské náměstí, the old town square, are immense. It’s the opening day of this market which is spread across this large town square flanked by the town hall and St. Nicholas church.
Clock on old town hall
This is by far the most impressive and beautiful Christmas market we’ve visited.
There are stalls selling ornaments, all types of food and of course, gluhwein.
We had a late afternoon meal of potatoes, cabbage and ham and a Czech beer. It was really good.
Close by was a performance stage with different choirs performing. We arrived in time to see a children’s choir perform (YouTube video).
The side street across from the city hall has restaurants all year long.
After a couple of hours, we decided to go try to find one of the other Christmas markets. It’s 4pm and getting dark.
We walked to the next market and at one point ran into a “wall” of people on a street that was hardly moving. For reasons we could not see, the police had blocked part of an intersection and everyone was having to squeeze through. Once through, it cleared out a bit but we could see ahead that the street was just packed.
We continued on and finally came to the boulevard that runs up to the statue of Svatý Vaclave (King Wenceslas) Square and St. Vitus cathedral.
The entire boulevard is the Christmas market, though it’s not as pretty as the old town square. There are stalls lining the center median (streets on either side) selling food and drink and Christmas items.
Just before the statue of King Wencelas is the monument to Jan Palach, a not too distant reminder of another of the Soviet Union’s invasions of neighboring countries. His was not the last of those protesting the occupation with the ultimate sacrifice. “On the 20th anniversary of Palach’s death, protests ostensibly in memory of Palach (but intended as criticism of the regime) escalated into what would be called “Palach Week”. The series of anticommunist demonstrations in Prague between 15 and 21 January 1989 were suppressed by the police, who beat demonstrators and used water cannons, often catching passers-by in the fray. Palach Week is considered one of the catalyst demonstrations which preceded the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia 10 months later.“
There were other Christmas markets we did not have time to visit, but regretfully, it’s time for us to head back to the hotel as we leave for Nuremberg tomorrow. Prague has a 1000 year+ history; there’s so much to see. We just wish it didn’t take so long to get here.
Do Příště ! (until next time)