Christmas Market at Prague’s Old Town Square

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The Black Angel stall. Photo by Wynne Crombie
The Black Angel’s stall. Photo by Wynne Crombie

For those who want to warm up with a little libation, good bets are the Czech beers Pilsner, Urquell, and Budvar. A little chilly? Well then, outdoor shopping is so much nicer with a cup of hot mulled wine svařené víno or svařák in your hand.

When you get tired of strolling, a horse and buggy will take you on a slow spin around the perimeter. We spotted a couple of people on segways who seemed a little out of place in this medieval square.

Romanesque and Gothic it certainly is. Prague’s Old Town Square dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries. At that time, it was the economic and political center of Prague Old Town.

After a little libation, we set out to shop. Necklaces hung from stalls amid displays of rings and bracelets (especially amber and crystal). One of my favorites were the miniature clocks with photos of Prague on their faces.

The wooden stalls sell the traditional handicrafts: glassware, jewelry, embroidered lace, wooden toys, metal ware, ceramics and, scented candles.  A vendor was unwrapping Christmas tree ornaments, hats, gloves and scarves. One interesting entrepreneur was making bells (a la Downton Abby kitchen) right on the spot.

At the top of the hour, the clock tower, an astronomical clock, performs.  It happens something like this:

The clock face. Photo by Wynne Crombie
The clock face. Photo by Wynne Crombie

The live trumpeter blows the call from the tower. The twelve apostles appear from two side doors on the tower wall. A skeleton rings a bell, the clock chimes and the trumpeter sounds the hour.  Hundreds of people below break into cheers and clap, as they have been doing since 1410. The crowd then disperses until the next hour.

After people watching, shopping and munching on Czech delights, venture over to Mlejunice’s, a delightful pub just off the Square for bowls of cabbage/sausage soup (nicely accented with globs of sour cream).

Work off a little of this Czech delight by taking in one of the little alleyways that branch off the Square. Here exists the world of Cartier and Espirit.  Espirit had their man dressed in a long red fur-lined coat and sporting an umbrella with Espirit written on it. (And yes, there was a McDonalds)

Guides, dressed in sailor suits, stood near a makeshift pier to take tourists on canal boat rides. A swan or two bobbed in the distance. But that’s something to be savored for next time.

If You Go to Prague

Recommended:  Restaurant Mlejnice at Kozna 488/14 Prague. We tried the goulash and soup. Both were exceptional. Hovězí Guláš s Knedlíkem  (beef goulash with dumplings) 165  koruna or $8.25 Zeli a klobasa polevka (cabbage/sausage soup) 45  koruna or $2.25

For more information see Official Prague Tourism