The Old Town of Prague, bounded by The Vltava River to the north and west, and New Town on the east and south, was Prague for the first or five or six centuries of her existence.
It struck us that very little had changed.
Sunlight could scarcely reach the ground between the tightly packed buildings, maybe that’s why when they were built they called the period The Dark Ages. Then we burst out into the open daylight of The Old Town Square.
It was like stepping inside a fairy-tale picture book.
The plaza seemed especially huge because of the contrast with the narrow streets leading into it.
But size is not what makes the square so impressive, that task is accomplished by the remarkable architecture enclosing the space. Best known of the buildings are the Old Town Hall, with the world’s oldest working Astronomical Clock on its tower, and the Týn and St. Nicholas Churches. We took in every building, famous or not, because they are all treasures.
While we were gawking, the delicious aromas of classic Czech street foods wafted over to us. We became like cartoon characters following a gossamer scent trail to find its source. Sometimes our feet didn’t even touch the ground.
Ah, there it is, a cluster of booths, let’s see what they’ve got:
The first booth was roasting traditional Prague ham, pražská šunka, on a spit over an open fire. The smell was staggering. Cured and smoked ham has been a staple of the Prague diet for around five hundred years and the locals were lined up to get ’em some. We joined the queue. When we finally got our paper plate, sagging with juicy slices and served up with rye bread and mustard, it was well worth the wait.
Edibles spinning over an open fire seemed to be the cooking method of choice – dessert was being served up in the next booth over in the form of rotisserie sweet rolls called Trdelník. These gastric goodies originated in Slovakia, but the Czechs held on to Trdelník when the countries split.
We watched enthralled as two Czech girls rolled dough onto steel poles , put them over the coals, pulled them off the bars at just the right moment and rolled them in sugar – all without ever missing a beat in the heated argument they were carrying on. Their fighting didn’t harm the flavor of these tasty toffee flavored treats.
Off to the east of the square we could see the Powder Tower, marking the gate between the New and Old Towns. New is strictly a relative term. Prague’s New Town began over six hundred years ago, so it is only new compared to Old Town, which is twice that age.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com