The Gallus Market (Havelsky trh)

Walking along the Zelezna street from the Old Town Square, you find yourself on the square of the former St Havel’s market. Originally called the New market, in order to distinguish itself from the Old Town Square market. The place, established in the 13th Century was called after the Church, which dominated the then- empty place and was one of the four main churches in Prague at the time. It profited from its position, being in the spotlight, and it was harmed by it, the noise of the market often interrupting the markets.

What was slowly becoming a square often hosted celebrations and feasts in the name of newly crowned kings. The Zbraslav chronicles mention the occasion when Wenceslas II had pipelines laid down to the square, so that wine would pour out of fountains on the occasion of his coronation.

There were different kinds of shops present, some were of stone and there was some sort of a Jewish presentation at the spot. The various shops were a regular source of amusement for the Prague university students, who tended to escape the nearby Carolinum in search of a meal, ale and some entertainment.

Next to the renowned Church, in the place called Kotce (because of the shops), there was a building, which became a ground for theatrical companies and later became the first regular Prague theater in 1738. This was soon overshadowed by the Nostic, later Stavovské divadlo (The Estates Theatre), on the opposite end of the square. It is clear than that the spot turned into a centre of dramatic art, also the Czech- spoken.

The trade is lively in Havelska street close to the square. Inside the passage, in the “U zlate vahy” pub, a secret assembly of Czech radical democrats, who called themselves “Repeal”, inspired by the Irish independence movement, using the same slogan, was born and had their sessions.

The area around the market is visibly different from the Old Town. Unlike the Old Town, this area had an architectonic plan, while the Old Town grew spontaneously. It is one of the striking differences between the Old and the New, but even when compared to the Havel’s Town, you see a complicated net of narrow streets on one hand and an order and utility, streets wide and straight and useful. It’s interesting that the architectural anarchy of the early settlement is one of the reasons why the city center remains special.

© 2008 |