About Wenceslas Square
Wenceslas Square (Vaclavske Namesti) is a shopping boulevard in the centre of Prague which has witnessed centuries of historical events.
History of Wenceslas Square
Despite its name, the area isn’t really a square – it’s more of a long, broad boulevard. Established as a horse market and in fact named “Horse Market” or “Koňský trh” in the fourteenth century during the reign of King Charles IV, it was officially renamed as “Wenceslas Square” in the 19th century after the patron saint of Bohemia, Saint Wenceslas. It was at this time that the majestic statue of Saint Wenceslas on horseback was erected in the square during a period of heightened nationalism. The statue is flanked by statues of other saints important to Bohemia.
Wenceslas Square has since been the scene of many political and social events and gatherings, including the reading of the Proclamation of Independence of Czechoslovakia on 28 October 1918.
Wenceslas Square was also the site where Czech student Jan Palach set himself on fire on 16 January 1969 to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia after the Prague Spring. In 1989, Wencelas Square also became a gathering point for angry citizens following a brutal police crackdown on a student demonstration. It was at the Melantrich Building on the square than the proclamation of the end of communism in Czechoslovakia was announced.
Wenceslas Square today
There’s a small memorial to the victims of of communism in the square, which can feel quite incongruous given the capitalist takeover of the square. Today, Wenceslas Square is a meeting point and hub in Prague – expect to see at least as many locals as tourists, and watch out for any potential political protests as they often end up here.
Getting to Wenceslas Square
Wenceslas Square is in central Prague, close to the main train station. The metro station Muzeum is at the south eastern end of the square and Mustek station is at the northwest end. It’s about 10 minutes walk from Old Town Square.