Introducing Staré Město
If the labyrinth of narrow streets around the Old Town Square can be said to have a ‘main drag’, it’s the so-called Royal Way, the ancient coronation route to Prague Castle, running from the Powder Gate along Celetná to the Old Town Square and Little Square (Malé náměstí), then along Karlova and across Charles Bridge.
To the north of the Old Town Square, half-a-dozen historic synagogues, a town hall and the Old Jewish Cemetery are all that survive of the once-thriving Jewish quarter of Josefov – the slice of Staré Město bounded by Kaprova, Dlouhá and Kozí. Most of the district’s buildings were demolished around the turn of the 20th century, when massive redevelopment saw the old slums replaced with expensive new apartments.
To the south, the meandering lanes and passageways between Karlova and Národní třída are Prague’s best territory for aimless wandering. When the crowds thin out late in the day, this area can cast such a spell that it’s quite a surprise to emerge from its peaceful backstreets into the bustle of the 21st century.