Prague is an amazing city with a rich history. The tourist books do a good job painting a beautiful Prague, but, do they tell you how did Prague became the city it is today? Over the next few weeks we will publish some of our favorite secrets and little-known facts about Prague. Each snapshot gives context to this historically rich city, showing how Prague has become the city it is today.
Every week, we will focus on a different aspect of Prague, and the story behind it. Each unknown fact will tell Prague’s story from a different perspective. This week, we look at Prague’s transition from a city of royalty, to a city for people.
Rytířská ulice — Knight Street
As the name suggests, this street used to host Prague’s tournaments. Knights would assemble here, boasting their skills through competition. As one might notice when walking down the historic avenue, it is wider than most of Prague’s streets. This extra width was why it was perfect for the noble competitions. However, today, the street’s width is used for less glorious purposes: parking. Despite its diminished status, in its time, the street was where glory and honor were fought over.
Prague’s Oldest Apartment Building — The Pasáž Platýz
There is more history behind the building than you think. Perhaps, a seemingly inconsequential event, the emergence of apartment buildings marks an important transition for Prague. The conversion of grand palaces, to better utilized apartment buildings tells an important story about Prague’s social, economic, and political development.
Originally built in 1350, it was converted into apartment units in 1813 by the co-founder of the National Theatre (Národní divadlo), František Daubek. As one can imagine, the 667 year-old building has a long and sorted past, ranging from the hosting glorious balls to executions. Today, in line with Prague’s development as a tourist city, the building hosts cafes and shops. The constant evolution of Pasáž Platýz shows how Prague has developed over time.
Potulná kašna — The Wandering Fountain
Originally built on Národní třída in 1797, Potulná kašna is also known as the Wandering Fountain, or Wimmer’s Fountain. The fountain has lived up to its name as the Wandering Fountain, being relocated to several different locations around Prague. In 1812, the fountain was moved from its original location to Bethlehem Square. After some time at Bethlehem Square, the fountain was again moved, this time to Vrchlického Park. However, this would not be the Wandering Fountain’s final resting place. In 1951, to make room for the construction of new public toilets, the fountain was forced to move again.
This time the fountain’s new home would be behind the Coal Market, where it still is today. The fountain was commissioned by the wealthy, Prague merchant, Jakub Wimmer, who devoted much of his wealth towards developing Prague, including public parks. Like the Pasáž Platýz, the construction and constant relocation of the fountain speaks to Prague’s wealth and development.