New Town

The New Town (Nové Město in Czech) is a district in the historic centre of Prague. New Town is the youngest and largest of the five originally independent towns that comprise the centre of Prague. New Town was founded in 1348 by Emperor Charles IV just outside the city walls to the east and south of the Old Town and encompassed an area of 7.5 km² (about three times the size of the Old Town). The population of Prague in the 14th century, after the New Town had been built, was well over 40,000, making it one of the biggest cities in Europe of the time.

The building of the New Town commenced on 26 March 1348 with the ceremonial laying of the first stone of the New Town wall by Charles IV. At the foundation of the New Town in 1348, the enclosed area was already mostly surveyed, divided into parcels. The plan for the roads as well as the positions of the various markets were all already determined. The structure of the older settlements on the Vltava was broadly maintained; but on the remaining, so far undeveloped terrain, unusually broad streets and squares were created. The area of the New Town was however so large that it could not immediately be settled completely, and large sections remained undeveloped into the 19th century.

In the 15th century, the Novoměstská radnice, or New Town Hall, was the site of the first of the three defenestrations of Prague. Nové Město was an independent borough until 1784, when the four independent Royal towns that had formerly constituted Prague were proclaimed a single city.

Although New Town can trace its current layout to its construction in the 14th century, only few churches and other buildings from this time survive. There are many secular and educational buildings in New Town, but also several magnificent Gothic and Baroque churches. New Town’s most famous landmark is Wenceslas Square, which was originally built as a horsemarket and now functions as a center of commerce and tourism.

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