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Celetná Street

Celetná Street (7)

Celetná Street is one of the oldest in Prague and owes its name to the type of plaited bread that is baked here. Its layout follows an old Bohemian commercial route and forms part of the Royal Way, along which the kings paraded to be crowned. 

It is still one of the most important thoroughfares of the Old Town and one of the favourites of the Prague locals to go for a stroll. 

Moreover, it still contains buildings of the most varied styles of architecture. The basements of these buildings today house typical and welcoming restaurants, taverns and wine cellars. Therefore, to taste the traditional dishes of Czech cuisine you will have to go downstairs.

The explanation for this situation can be found in the 12th century. At that time, the spring rain meant that the River Vtlava overflowed its banks and flooded the Old Town of Prague. To avoid this, it was decided to cover the existing buildings in the area with earth, and from that level build the houses and other buildings of the district.

In other words, building a new city over the earlier one. Today you can visit this old Prague city with its Romanesque-style ruins, which extends along a large section of Celetná Street and the Old Town Square. 

The majority of buildings in this beautiful street are Baroque style and many of its constructions were aristocratic palaces and homes to the nobility, such as Sixt House, at number 2, or the Hrzansky Palace, at number 12, a wonderful example of Czech Baroque architecture from around 1700, planned by Alliprandi for Count Zikmund Hrzán of Harasov. The sculptural decoration of the façade included the involvement of the famous Czech workshop of the Brokof family of master sculptors. 

At number 3 is the House of the Three Kings, where the family of Franz Kafka lived. The writer spent part of his childhood and adolescence here and had the room facing the church of Our Lady Before Tyn.

One of the most singular buildings in this street is the House of the Black Madonna, at number 34. It is a cubist-style building designed by the architect Josef Gocar. The polyhedron profile of its loft is very characteristic of the cubist movement. 

In fact, inside the House of the Black Madonna is the museum dedicated to Czech cubism, with a meticulous selection of paintings, sculptures and furniture in this style. But instead of visiting a museum, if you would rather take a break and relax with a nice cup of tea, you can always stop off at the Café Orient, which you will find on the first floor and which also has delicious cubist cakes.

You will find a clear example of the mixture of styles at number 17, which is Meinhart House, made up of several Gothic buildings later reconstructed in Renaissance style, and unified by the Baroque reconstruction undertaken around 1750.

The house bears the name of its owner at the beginning of the 18th century: Johann Frederick Meinhart, and the palace was famous for its theatre, concerts and other artistic activities.

Of the two original buildings in Meinhart House the Gothic portals, Renaissance vaults and, in the courtyard, Baroque sculptures have all been conserved. Among them features a sculpture of Samson, made in wood, in baroque style.

Through a passageway that crosses Meinhart House we can from Celetná Street to Malá Stupartská Street, where one of the most beautiful Baroque churches in Prague is to be found. The temple was founded in the 13th century, but its current appearance is the result of the reconstruction in Baroque style carried out on it in the early 18th century.

On many of the houses and buildings you will see symbols, a swan, a red lion, a golden key, two suns, three violins… which his how they were once marked to identify them, and it is also said that the symbols were to attract good luck to those who lived in them.

Enjoy a stroll full of art, whichever direction you look in. Also on your route you will come across exquisite shops, small restaurants and delightful cafés, perfect for enjoying the walk even more.

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