Charles Square (Czech: Karlovo Námestí) is not only the largest square in Prague, but also a green area adorned with statues and fountains.
A vital centre of the grand New Town as early as the 14th century, the square has changed its name and function over the centuries.
Important buildings line this square: the two most famous are the New Town Hall (Novomestská radnice) where the first Defenestration of Prague took place in 1419, and the Baroque Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius, from 1671.
The New Town Hall (Novomestská radnice in Czech) was built following the foundation of the New Town of Prague in 1348 and remained its administrative centre until 1784, when all four Prague towns were united.
The building witnessed and was the site of numerous historical events, including the first defenestration of Prague. On 30 July 1419, an anticlerical mob led by Jan Zelivsky demanded the release of some Hussite prisoners; upon refusal, the demonstrators threw the Catholic leader and his advisors out of a window. This was the beginning of the Hussite revolution.
Today, the building is the venue for numerous cultural events and is also used for weddings; a modern cafeteria has been opened in the courtyard.
You can climb to the top of the Gothic tower, which is about 70m high, and admire a fantastic view of Prague’s largest square. The tower ticket also includes a visit to the permanent exhibition on the history of the New Town of Prague and the Tower Gallery, where temporary exhibitions are held.
The Church of St. Ignatius (in Czech Kostel sv. Ignáce) appears from the façade as a typical Baroque church, sumptuous and opulent, commissioned by the Jesuits to attract the poor to the faith with the wealth of the Church.
The original church was part of a former Jesuit college, now a university hospital, believed to be the third largest Jesuit complex in Europe. The present building was constructed between 1665 and 1671 to a design by architect Carlo Lurago, while the interior decoration is predominantly 18th-century.
Two other noteworthy buildings in and around Piazza Carlo are:
Charles Square already existed in the Middle Ages, but with a different name and a different function. It was in fact founded by Charles IV in 1348, following the foundation of the New Town of Prague, and was originally intended as a cattle market.
For a long time it was indifferently called The Great Market (Velké tržiště), New Town Market Square (Novoměstský rynek) (Circus Novae Civitas) or Upper Town Market Square (rynek Hořejšího města). It was only in the mid-19th century that the square changed its name to Charles Square.
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.