Old Town Hall - Old Town Square 3, 4/1, Old Town
Old Town Square 3, 4/1, Old Town
The administrative centre of Prague’s Old Town and of joined Prague towns later on, one of the most important monuments of Prague’s historical core; it consists of a few former townhouses which were joined together and repeatedly modified over the centuries. The Old Town was granted its town priviliges as early as in 1230’s, the permission to open a town hall was only given a century later, in 1338 by King John of Luxemburg. The core of the Town Hall was formed by a house which was freely standing by a water stream, bought from a merchant Wolfin of Kamen. After 1360 another house was built on to it from the western side where a council room was established, in 1458 the councillors bought a third house from Mikeš the Furrier (now it has a Neo-Renaissance façade), the house At the Cock was attached to the town hall in 1830-34 (Classicist façade) and the house At the Minute in 1896
It was probably in mid-14th century when the construction of the majestic tower began, the tower still being the dominant feature of the town hall at present time. In 1381 Parléř’s stone works built a Gothic chapel on the first floor of the tower and at the beginning of the 15th century the tower was equipped with a clock, a bell and on the south side the building of the Astronomical Clock was attached. Tower gallery was added in 1805-07 when the clock was replaced too.
The eastern tract of the Town Hall had been built since the 14th century, however, it was taken down in the 1830’s and replaced by a Neo-Gothic building in 1838-48 based on a plan by Viennese architects P. Nobile and B. Sprenger; also this building was heavily destroyed during the Prague Uprising in May 1945 during the fights between members of the uprising and the German Army, also due to a fire that followed. After the war the building was knocked down and never replaced (at present time there is an open space with a park). Major damage was also done to the tower with the Astronomical Clock. During the 20th century a number of competitions for reconstruction and completion of the Town Hall was announced but these either didn’t have a winner or the winning proposals were not carried out.
Apart from the Old Town Astronomical Clock, a technical and artisitic monument of worldwide importance, other interesting architectural features of the Town Hall include the late Gothic main portal from the third quarter if the 15th century, with mosaic paintings from 1937 based on cartoons by M. Aleš and also a Renaissance window from 1520 that really stands out. In the Town Hall interiors, a number of Gothic portals, vaults, wall paintings from the 15th century and rafter painted ceilings from the 16th century was restored. The most precious room inside the Town Hall is the late Gothic Old Council Room with painted joist ceiling. There is also a number of sculptures with the Gothic wooden-carved statue of Suffering Christ from around 1400 is especially valuable. In the cellars of Mikeš’s house there is a Romanesque room from mid-12th century. The complex of Old Town Hall buildings serves mainly for cultural and representative purposes of the city; the rooms on the second floor are used by the Prague Municipal Gallery which exhibits latest trends of contemporary art there. The Old Town Hall is a national cultural monument since 1962. – On the paving in front of the tower there are cross signs which signify the place where Czech noblemen were executed in 1621.