Old Town Hall in Prague – can be visited only with a guided tour
Let’s agree. I have three stories about the Old Town Hall. 1) I will tell you about the town hall itself and the tour it offers on this page (you are on it). Keep in mind that you can’t visit the town hall without a tour! 2) To talk about the tower of the town hall, which is the best observation deck in the city, I will tell you about it here. 3) About the clock (Eagle’s chimes) on the tower of the town hall, very famous and unusual, read here .
I hope I did not confuse you in this way, but on the contrary: and so it will be easier for you to understand what we are talking about.
One more thing! This town hall is part of my route 1 of the author’s route in the Old City. I highly recommend a walk through it.
The town hall from the side of Old Town Square.
So, about the town hall. First, you can not visit the town hall without a tour. You can only see the main hall. Secondly, to get to the observation deck, which is located on the tower of the town hall, separately can not. It is necessary to buy a ticket for the tour and then with this ticket you can climb to the observation deck. This is very frustrating. Third, be prepared for the fact that an unexpected and pleasant bonus to the tour is a visit to the underground, which is located under the Town Hall.
- Excursions in Prague in Russian – a selection with the best guides
- Ready-made itineraries of Prague – for individual walks
A little history to understand what this place is all about. The Old Town (Stare Mesto) is now the historical center of Prague. And before it was a separate independent city. There was even a wall around it. The stronger the city became, the more privileges it received from the kings. For example, over time, the Charles Bridge came to this city, and the citizens could collect customs duties from those who passed through it. Some privileges were strange: for example, one of them stated that in the Old Town they had the right to punish young people who led a disorderly life.
One of these privileges was that the city was granted the right to have its own town hall, that is, the place where the town council met. This happened more than 680 years ago.
The town hall was not built from scratch, but it was given as a house of one of the merchants. Over time, other buildings in the neighborhood moved to it, something was added, and it turned out quite a large complex of administrative buildings, as we would say today.
A very sad year in the history of the town hall was 1945, when it was shelled and it was badly damaged. Look at the photo of what it looked like after the shelling. What’s to the right of the tower in the photo now doesn’t exist at all. This part of the town hall was completely dismantled and now there is a small park in this place.
By the way! In the summer of 1945 a bronze plaque was placed on the wall of the Old Town Hall in Prague. On it was written that the Soviet army liberated Prague from German invaders. The plaque hung for 70 years, and in April 2017 it was removed because the reconstruction of the tower began. However, after the reconstruction work was completed, the plaque did not return to its original place – and, as it became known, will not return again because it was allegedly marked with “historically inaccurate data”. So…
This is what the town hall looked like after the bombing in 1945.
Tour of the town hall + description of the halls
As I said, you can only get into the town hall with a guided tour. They do it every hour, but there are only a few excursions a day in Russian. The tours start at 09:00 and go until 19:00. Only on Mondays, the start time of the tour is from 11.00.
Since the tours in Russian do not run every hour, it is best to come here in advance: find out when the next one, and buy a ticket. If it is still a lot of time, then go for a walk, and then come back here again.
The tour lasts a little less than an hour and takes place in this sequence. First, you’ll be shown the Municipal Hall where the meetings were held and then you’ll be taken to the chapel. You will see the mechanism of the Prague Astronomical Clock from the inside. You will be led to the clock at the beginning of the new hour, when the mechanism begins to work. So you will see how the figures of the apostles move from inside. Then you will be led through several more rooms of the town hall: I wouldn’t say they are very interesting, but the guide’s story filled with all kinds of details makes up for the lack of spectacle. At the end of the tour, you’ll get to the dungeon, and then you can go up to the observation deck of the town hall. This will happen just as people gather under the tower to listen to the chimes and watch the performance the clock puts on. From the tower it is very interesting to watch the people below as they wait for the chimes to strike.
And now I will tell you in more detail about each place you will visit, with all kinds of interesting details.
What parts does the city hall consist of. 1. The Chapel of Our Lady 2. The Hall of the Municipality 3. The old hall of the city council 4. Foyer of the meeting hall 5. Brozikov Hall 6. Jiříkov Hall 7. The Romanesque Underground 8. Gothic underground. 9. Main vestibule. 10. Town Hall tower.
Now the Old Town Hall consists of several houses. They stand closely together and during the tour you will go from one house to another. You will not even realize that you have moved into the neighboring building, until the guide tells you so. So, let’s begin…
- The Municipal Hall. This used to be the hall where the town hall meetings took place. It was the central room of the town hall. And it was also the place where weddings took place. The interiors of the hall are new, the old ones were destroyed in an air raid in 1945 (it was decided not to reconstruct them in their original form). In general, the hall is not very interesting. But curious is a small door, located away from the wooden staircase, which leads to a medieval prison where prisoners were held. Many of them were executed here in the Old Town Square by beheading.
The mechanism of the clock. In the chapel you can see a part of the clock mechanism of the Prague Chimes. To be exact, you can see the part of the mechanism that drives the apostles. They move in front of the windows and look out into the street. This mechanism is separated from you by glass, and to see it, you have to climb the stairs to a special platform. Unfortunately, there is not much time to see it: firstly, the mechanism does not work for a long time, secondly, everyone wants to see it, and the tour must go on. But in general, it is a wonderful show. About the clock very detailed written here. Read it for sure, because it really is a unique chiming clock.
The Old Hall of the City Council. It’s quite a beautiful hall, but most importantly, the details are interesting. For example, the pride of the hall is the figure of Jesus Christ, which is several centuries old. It is very valuable. Under it there is an inscription in Latin: “Judge fairly, sons of men.” This inscription is not accidental, because there used to be the city court here. By the way, the sculpture of the Roman goddess of justice says the same thing.
The large windows of the hall are also a reminder of fairness and impartiality: on one occasion, the burgomaster and seven members of the city council were thrown out of the hall onto the sidewalk of Old Town Square because they were dissatisfied with their decisions. The mayor, by the way, in spite of the fall from a great height, survived, but broke both his legs. Only this did not help him, because he was later executed anyway. This tradition of throwing politicians who have been guilty out of windows is, by the way, a distinctive feature of Prague. This phenomenon (throwing out of windows) is called the difficult-to-pronounce expression “Prague defenestrations.
- Jiříkov Hall. This hall with a difficult to pronounce name was named after the Czech king. He was famous for the fact that 550 years ago he suggested uniting the countries of Europe and make something like the modern European Union. But his proposal was not appreciated, and Europe said: “No!” In this room, you will see frescoes from the 15th century.
The tower of the Old Town Hall. Read about the tower here. I can only say that the tour ends there, and that it is the best observation point in the city. Try to visit it for sure.
What to see nearby. 1) Town hall is on the Old Town Square. There are a few “secrets” on it, about which in detail is written here . 2) About 70 meters away is the Museum of Erotic Devices. But if you are less than 18 years old you won’t be allowed in. 3) At 75 meters away is the hotel “At Prince’s”. There is a cafe on its roof, which some tourists use as a free viewing platform. 4) The Týn Church is 135 meters away. It’s free – check it out. 5) At 140 meters there is the Church of St. Nicholas. It has been Orthodox for a long time. Entrance is free. 6) At 220 meters there is the Tyn yard. There used to be merchants who used to stop there, collect taxes and trade, but now there are a lot of cafes and stores. It’s a nice place to have a beer. 7) At 230 meters there is Havel Market . It’s very old, soon to be 800 years old. Go there – they sell souvenirs there now at reasonable prices.
Opening times and ticketing
- Town Hall opening hours: 09:00 to 19:00 (daily except Mondays), 11:00 to 19:00 (Mondays).
How to get to the Old Town Hall in Prague
The Town Hall is located in the Old Town on the Old Town Square . In general I always describe how to get to all sorts of interesting places in Old Town from the Town Hall, or rather from the Prague Astronomical Clock, which is located on its tower.
So now I find myself in a quandary: where to start describing how to get to the Town Hall, because it itself is the best landmark in the Old Town. Nevertheless, on my diagram I have marked where it is located in Old Town Square. If you have trouble finding the square itself, read a detailed description of it here . It’s all very clearly laid out.
I just want to say that the entrance to the hall is located 10 meters to the left from the Prague Astronomical Clock.
How to get to the Old Town Hall.
Old Town Hall
The Town Hall was established in 1338 by King John of Luxembourg as the seat of the Prague City Council. During its existence, the Town Hall was constantly expanded by the addition of houses to the left of the tower. Gothic and Renaissance mansions now form a unified ensemble.
History of the Town Hall
The history of the Town Hall began with the white Gothic Wolfrin House, adapted for the needs of the town government. At that time, in the 14th century, it was a corner house. At the end of the XV century the building was adorned with a rich Gothic portal, which is still admired today. The coats of arms of the Old Town and the Kingdom of Bohemia appeared on the large window on the first floor. In 1364, the mighty tower was added, where a century later the first Orloj chimes were placed.
In the 16th century, the town hall was joined by another pink house, the portal which still bears the inscription: “Prague – head of the kingdom”. The 18 stone coats of arms of the members of the town council are placed under the stone cornice and surround the coat of arms of the Old Town, which is repeated above the golden inscription. This building now houses the Marriage Hall, in operation since 1871. This hall is almost never empty.
The next two houses “By the Golden Crescent” and “By the Rooster” were added to the Town Hall later in the late 17th and 18th centuries.
The house adorned with black and white ornaments and figures, located next to the Town Hall complex, will no doubt catch your attention. In the past it was called “By the White Lion”. A sculpture of the beast still adorns its corner. Later there was a tobacconist’s shop. Other small goods were also sold here, which gave the house its modern name “By the minute”.
At the beginning of the XX century the house became significantly dilapidated and was being prepared for demolition. Suddenly, under a layer of plaster of Baroque restoration, a rich Renaissance painting was discovered. This find saved the house. If you look up at the cornice, you will see decorations in the form of medallions depicting the rulers of the era. Above the second-floor windows are mythological scenes, such as the procession of Bacchus accompanied by dancing satyrs. A popular Renaissance motif of brothers arguing over an inheritance is displayed above the windows on the first floor. Allegorical figures of justice, fortitude, wisdom, fertility, and motherhood can be seen between the windows.
It is now the site of the Prague Metropolitan Magistrate’s Monument Preservation Organization.
Thousands of people gather every day in front of the famous astronomical clock in the Old Town Hall to watch the unusual spectacle of the striking clock, which takes place every hour from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The astronomical clock with its many hands and markings also shows the phases of the moon, the days of the equinox, the position of the sun in the zodiac and numerous Christian festivals.
Don’t miss to climb the Town Hall tower, which offers a wonderful view over Old Town Square and a fabulous view of Prague. Upstairs you can take the elevator, downstairs it is recommended to go on foot, using the spiral staircase. The tower is a must see, take a look at our amateur photos.
Petřín Tower Old Town Hall
|Tower||every day||09:00 – 22:00 (Monday from 11:00)|
|Historic interiors||every day||09:00 – 19:00 (Mondays from 11:00)|
Ticket sales close 30 minutes before closing time.
Hall of Architects (Sál architektů)
The museum is located on the 5th floor of the Old Town Hall, built in the 14th century. The exhibitions are supported by the Prague Institute of Planning and Development and focus mainly on the development of modern urban planning.
Photography exhibitions in the “Hall of Architects” have several thematic areas: contemporary architecture, history, perspectives in construction. The expositions are organized with the support of the city hall. The museum is open every day from 09:00 to 18:00 (on Mondays from 11:00).
Some projects involve the active participation of residents and visitors to Prague with discussions and suggestions for modernization:
- “What is the City, Do You Know Prague. An exhibition about the city in maps, charts and figures. Main issues touched upon: age structure of population, birth rate, ecology;
- “Digital Maps of Prague”. A selection of thematically diverse digital maps of Prague as well as 3D models;
- “The Concept of the Capital Plan. An open discussion of the city project with the residents of Prague.
Historical exhibitions presenting photographs of UNESCO heritage sites and famous Prague villas from 1848-1921. The exhibition “Prague Garden Settlements” shows the history of gardening in Bohemia and Europe in detail. The exhibition of photographs of the 20th century hospital institutions by architect Bedřich Rosegnal is very popular.
ADDRESS Staroměstské náměstí 1/3, Prague 1 | GPS: 50.08711250, 14.42067810 METRO Staroměstská. Tramway during the day: 2, 17, 18; at night: 93. Stop Staroměstská.