Sunday, 12 October 2014

Prague Day 2: The Tale of 2 City Gates


Like most important medieval cities and towns (not just in Europe), Prague was fortified by walls. The year 1453 changed all that. That year, Sultan Mehmet II finally brought down the city walls of Constantinople, which was stood the test of time until 1453. With the fall of the wall came the Fall of the Roman Empire. It also changed the warfare forever. Year 1453 is the expiry date for city walls.

From then on, city walls no longer were built. Even no new city walls were built, existing ones needed to be maintained. If not, the crumbling walls could be dangerous.

Prague Old Town encircled by old city wall
(click to enlarge)

Emperor Franz Josef declared in 1874 that Prague should be an open town, and the walls should come down. "Franz Josef, tear down these walls!". The reality was, the walls were in a state of disrepair, and the emperor had no finance to repair it.

Only 2 major fortification towers that served as city gates remained today: the Powder Tower, and the Old Town Bridge Tower. I'm glad they didn't remove these towers.

Powder Tower, Prague, Czech Republic
Powder Tower

Powder Tower, Prague, Czech Republic
Powder Tower locates next to Municipal House

Very appropriately, the Powder Tower was also the point where we entered the Old Town. Today, there's no wall enclosing the town, so you can enter the town from any point. In fact, there's no indication where the Old Town starts. We did so because our hotel Art Deco Imperial was only 100  m or so from here.

Republic Square, Prague, Czech Republic
Republic Sqaure

The Powder Tower locates at the Republic Square, which could be easily accessed by public transport.

The streets that connects these 2 towers and cuts across Prague Old Town are the main streets. Especially Celetná where Powder Tower is the entrance gate for this street. It's part of the Royal Route.

Old Town Bridge Tower, Prague, Czech Republic
Old Town Bridge

If you have limited time to explore the many streets in the Old Town, I guess you should explore the main streets that connects these 2 towers.

In both towers, if you have the energy, you can climb the stairs to go up the top of the towers to gain an aerial perspective of the Old Town.

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