Old Town II - Locality Description



Celetná Street, starting with the Powder Tower and leading to the Old Town Square, is the first section of the Royal Route in the order in which the ceremonial coronation processions of Czech kings passed it. It is one of the oldest and historically most significant streets in Prague: it was created along the road from the Prague town union to Kutná Hora whose silver mines sustained the prestige of the Czech state and the king for centuries. The name of the street is derived from “calty”, plaited bread which was baked here. The name is documented on the turn of the 14th century. The significance of the street grew at the end of the 14th century when in the location of today’s Municipal House the King’s Court was formed and the street became a part and the starting point of the royal coronation route. In the cellars of many houses the foundations of Romanesque and Gothic buildings, which originally lined the street, have been preserved. Most of them were later rebuilt into opulent Renaissance and Baroque aristocratic palaces and burgher houses. The jewel of the new era is the House At the Black Madonna, the first building of cubism, the only architectonic style that originated in the Czech lands. The current appearance of the street is the result of the year 1987 when a total reconstruction of all the houses was carried out including the renovation of the facades.


It is a significant crossroads at the eastern end of the Old Town; eight streets in all meet here. The name of the square commemorates the formation of the independent Czechoslovak state in 1918 and the square is thus a part of a ring of streets along the perimeter of the Old Town with names of similar symbolic importance: Revolution Street, the Republic Square, 28th October Street and National Street. Historically the square was called for example Hybernian (after the Irish monks whose monastery stood here), before the formation of Czechoslovakia it held the name of the imperial and royal monarch Francis Joseph I. Walls and moats of the Old Town fortification ran through today’s square. Among others there was also the King’s Courtyard, a splendid seat of Czech rulers, in the place of which stands the Art-Nouveau Municipal House today. During the centuries the square underwent many architectural modifications and the old royal glory of the place is commemorated only by the Gothic Powder Tower. Among other significant buildings on the square there are the House at the Hybernians, the building of the former military quarters of George of Poděbrady, the seat of the Czech National Bank, or the Kotva department store, which is one of the valued buildings of the modern era.


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