One of the most significant Old Town units, Ungelt (also known as Tyn Courtyard), situated between Church of St. James and Church of Our Lady Before Tyn was an old fortified merchant courtyard founded in the 11th century. It used to be the centre of international trade as well as the customs office.
The merchant courtyard used to be separated from the rest of the city by a ditch and a wall. Everyone who entered the courtyard had to pay a tribute to the ruler in exchange for the protection of his own and his goods. Later on the tribute changed into the customs duty that had to be paid from any goods coming to or through Prague. Old German word for customs duty, ungelt, gave the courtyard its name.
As the trade was flourishing and the courtyard was a safe place, the merchants used to drink in the evening and chatted about the news from the world. That is why the courtyard is known also under the name „the courtyard of joy“.
The best conditions for trade were during the reign of Charles IV. and his son Vaclav IV. However, after the Hussite’s movement the significance of the trading centre was dying out. After the World War II. the courtyard became a mixture of stores, work-shops, offices and apartments of the worst quality.
In the 80’s of the 20th century a big reconstruction started, the courtyard was open to the public again in 1996. Today you can find here among others Ungelt Jazz&Blues Club, Ungelt Theatre, Cafe Gallery Ungelt or hotel Ungelt. Even though every house here is different, they create a harmonious unit [see Houses at Ungelt].
How to get there:
The entrance to the courtyard from Old Town Square is from Tynska street through the gate of the house no. 639. Eastern gate leads to the street Mala Stupartska through gate of the house no. 636.