Our plan was to explore Prague in sections, Nove Mesto (New Town), Stare Mesto (Old Town), Hradcany (Castle Area), Mala Strana (Lesser Quarter), and Vysehrad (High Castle). We decided to start by getting to know the area around our hotel first, Nove Mesto, and then work our way out. That was the plan anyway. Although it is called Nova Mesto, the town was planned for in 1348 and major construction continued on into the 19th century. Our first stop was to the Navomestska radnice (New Town Hall). We climbed to the top of the tower, as the stairs got narrower and steeper, to a fantastic view of New Town and the major monuments scattered throughout Prague.
This tower was the site of the first defenestration in 1419, where an angry mob threw Catholic town councilors out the window. Those that didn’t die from the impact, were killed after they hit. Wandering the narrow streets, we found ourselves at Vaclavske namesti (Wenceslas Square), which is a long narrow square in the center of Nove Mesto. At the top of the square is a statue of St. Wenceslas, which seems to draw people around it in hordes to meet and rest at.
A side note, the night before we traveled through Wenceslas Square to catch a tram to our hotel. A demonstration and march was being held where anti-American and no nuke slogans were being yelled out. Come to find out we arrived in Prague the same day Condalisa Rice was there to sign the missile defense shield agreement.
We continued through the streets, being drawn in further by the amazing sights that appeared around almost every corner. Although our plan was to stick close to home for the day, we suddenly found ourselves at the Karluv most (Charles Bridge). Deciding to abort our plan, we continued on through the crowds of tourists to the other side, Mala Strana. Here we visited a marionette shop, a craft which Prague is highly regarded for. The marionettes were all hand carved and amazingly detailed. As with any fine craft the price tag was steep, so we just window shopped.
We continued on through Mala Strana through a park along the Vltava, the river that flows under the Charles Bridge. Here we had our first experience with European Water Closets (WC). WC’s are advertised throughout the city, in just about every location you would look for one. As we were about to enter, we discovered that it cost money to use the WC.Luckily, we had change on hand. We scoffed at first at having to pay, however, it was one of the cleanest rest rooms I had ever used. Definitely worth the 70 cents.