A Brief History of Wenceslas Square

Wenceslas Square
Wenceslas Square | © Catarina Belova / Shutterstock
Diana Bocco

Wenceslas Square is arguably one of Prague’s most famous meeting points. Conveniently located opposite the National Museum, the square is easily identifiable by the giant horse sculpture depicting Saint Wenceslas accompanied by four Czech patron saints. Culture Trip reveals how the square commemorates a dramatic history of violence and deception, often overlooked by visitors to Prague.

Until the 18th century the area now known as Wenceslas Square was one of many horse markets in Prague. Back then, the area was less a street and more an open area, with no significant monuments or buildings around it. Soon after, new buildings began to enclose the boulevard, giving birth to a shopping area that to this day hasn’t changed much.

Wenceslas Statue

The square was officially named Wenceslas Square in the 19th century. The renaming was part of the Czech national revival movement, which sought to establish a national identity by reviving significant aspects of Czech culture. During this time, King Wenceslas’ sainthood was enshrined by the sculpture which still stands prominently opposite the National Museum. Sculptor Josef Václav Myslbek worked on the statue of Wenceslas I, Duke of Bohemia, for several decades before it was completed.

Wenceslas Square at the end of 19th century

Folklore has it that King Wenceslas’ murder took place at the same time as the feast celebrating the birth of Boleslaus’ first born child, who was subsequently named Strachvas, or a “dreadful feast”. The name was a reminder to Boleslaus of what he had done. Several years after the event, Boleslaus ordered his brother’s remains to be buried at the Church of St Vitus.

Czechoslovak independence in 1928

Eventually, Wenceslas became known as “the King of Czechs” and is now a major figure in everything from children’s books to Christmas carols to legends. The namesake square has been the focus point for many historical events, including a rally conducted on October 28, 1918 to mark Czechoslovak independence. Separately, when a boy was shot in front of the statue during a rebellion against Soviet soldiers, a black flag was placed in St Wenceslas’ hand.

Today, the name Wenceslas Square refers to the entire boulevard that flows from the majestic horse all the way down to the metro station Mustek, 750 meters away. Despite the many modern storefronts that flank the boulevard, many historical sites, including the statue of King Wenceslas, remain.
Wenceslas Square, Václavské nám. 846/1 110 00 Praha 1-Můstek, Czechia

landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

X
Edit article