Prague New Town

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Nové Město
New Town (Prague) CoA CZ.jpg Location of the New Town in Prague
Basic data
State : Czech RepublicCzech Republic Czech Republic
Region : Hlavní město Praha
Municipality : Praha
Administrative district : Prague 1 , Prague 2 , Prague 8
Geographic location : 50 ° 5 '  N , 14 ° 25'  E Coordinates: 50 ° 4 '36 "  N , 14 ° 25' 28"  E
Residents : 28,025 (October 30, 2006)
The New Town of Prague (the color of the subdivision of the city districts) with adjacent city districts
  • to Prague 1
  • to Prague 2
  • to Prague 8
  • The New Town of Prague (Pražské Nové Město) is the youngest and largest of the four independent cities (until 1784) that were independent in the Middle Ages and modern times and which now make up the historic city center of Prague . It was built from 1348 under Emperor Charles IV . Even today, the structure of the new town goes back to the complex in the 14th century, even if only a few ecclesiastical, administrative and economic buildings, in particular magnificent Gothic and Baroque churches, have been preserved. The administrative and economic center was Karlsplatz , which is a magnet for tourists with historical interest.


    The legal establishment

    Probably in connection with his coronation as Roman-German king on November 26th, 1346, Charles IV made the decision to found a new city complex in Prague. After he had achieved ecclesiastical independence with the establishment of the Archdiocese of Prague in 1344, the king's new residence was to be further upgraded with the establishment of the New Town of Prague. In addition, the space problems within the city ​​walls of Prague , which had already arisen under Karl's father Johann von Luxemburg , called for a solution. Numerous, mostly poorer people of Czech nationality had settled in the settlements in front of the city wall, whereupon an almost continuous development along the Vltava was created.

    The novelty in Karl's approach was that he did not choose the usual route, the creation of legally dependent suburbs or the expansion of the old town , but instead created an independent royal city with its own legal system with the new town . Charles IV, however, planned a physical and legal union with the old town and ordered a joint administration in 1367, but this failed mainly because of the resistance of the two city councils and had to be reversed only 10 years later. After the residents of the new town had been granted a large number of rights and freedoms, the residents of the old town, which was now enclosed on all sides by the new town, were given their previous rights and freedoms and free access through the two northern gates of the Neustadt assured.

    The north-south main road (Mezibranská street) in Nové Město.

    Along with the establishment of the new town, efforts by the king to further increase the importance of the town went hand in hand. It was not only intended to be the new royal seat and a gathering point for the sciences - Charles University in Prague was founded on April 7, 1348 as the first university in Central Europe - and the arts, but also an important economic center in Central Europe. For this purpose, a relocation of the Central European traffic routes or the creation of new routes and the making the Vltava navigable were planned and in some cases also carried out. The construction of the new town was probably essentially completed as early as 1367, at the time of the unification with the old town, which was soon reversed.

    Extent and topography

    Jiráskovo náměstí with the Dancing House

    The new town covered an area of ​​around 250 hectares and was therefore more than twice the size of the old town (106 hectares). In the north-south direction it had an extension of around 5 km, in the east-west direction 0.8 to 1.2 km. The planned area was structured in many ways and also differed in terms of its requirements for the construction of a new city. On the Vltava River, several existing settlements of tanners and fishermen with their own churches and a Jewish cemetery lined up from Vyšehrad towards the old town . The Újezd ​​settlements east of the old town on the Vltava with the church of St. Clemens and Poříčí ("On the river") with St. Peter and the bishop's court were also densely built up.

    A terrace to the east was clearly separated from the flat surfaces on the banks of the Vltava by a pronounced six to eight meter high rift. The upper plateau was ruled by two mountain tongues protruding far to the west, which were later to be occupied by urban dominants. There were also some smaller settlements here, such as Am Weiher (Na Rybníčku or Rybníček) with a Romanesque rotunda , which was probably first dedicated to St. Stephan was consecrated.

    The fortification of the new town

    View over the Jamrtál to the city wall; on the right the Karlshof

    With the solemn laying of the foundation stone for the Neustadt walls on March 26, 1348 by Charles IV, the construction of the Neustadt officially began after the legal foundation. The city ​​wall not only served to secure the new city complex, but also legally separated it from the surrounding area. The importance attached to the fortification can be seen, among other things, from the fact that it was completed in just two years, albeit at a relatively low height compared to the walls of older Bohemian cities.

    The city wall of the New Town began on Vyšehrad, the fortification of which was renewed at the same time and moved from there along the steep slope of the upper Vltava terrace on the Botitzbach to the highest point in the area, on which the Karlshof was later built. Here it angled and initially ran almost exactly north-south. After a slight bend to the east between the gates on Gerstengasse and the Rossmarkt , the wall met the Veitsbergbach, the deeply cut valley of which it followed at approximately the same distance from the old town to the Vltava, where it bent again - this time to the west.

    In contrast to the old town, no wall was built on the Vltava, as free access to the river had to be guaranteed. Overall, the wall was about 3.5 km long, 6-10 m high and 3-5 m wide and crowned with battlements. While it was occupied by towers every 100 m on the east side, it was dispensed with in the south - with the exception of one tower in the valley - because of the steep front surface. At the bends of the wall in the south-east and in the north-east on the Veitsbergbach and at the north end on the Vltava, a stronger tower rose. The wall was only broken by four gates and a few small gates. In front of the wall there was a ditch that led mainly into the former stream beds, but in some places was dry due to the differences in height. Apparently a kennel wall did not exist.

    The plant of the city

    When Neustadt was founded in 1348, most of the enclosed area was measured, divided into plots and the street layout as well as the location and supply structure of the markets determined. While the structure of the older settlements on the Vltava was largely retained, unusually wide streets and squares were laid out on the remaining, previously uninhabited terrain, which, however, fully respected existing long-distance routes. However, the area of ​​the New Town was so large that it could not be completely settled immediately and larger parts, especially in the north near the Poříčí settlement and in the south-east, remained undeveloped into the 19th century. The cathedral builder Matthias von Arras , who had been brought to Prague by Karl from Avignon as early as 1342/44, was responsible for the planning of the new town .

    Charles IV expressly forbade speculation with land and granted all who wanted to settle twelve years tax exemption. However, the construction of the house on the assigned parcel had to be started within a month, it had to be made of stone and completed after a year and a half. This privilege applied not only to Christians , but also to Jews , who, however, made little use of it.

    City accounts show that as early as 1372 the streets were largely surrounded by houses. The order of Charles IV that noise- and dirt-causing trades should be relocated from the old town to the new town played a major role in the rapid settlement of the new town. Within the Neustadt, certain centers of craftsmen developed around the corresponding markets . For example, fishermen , timber merchants, raftsmen , tanners , dyers , brick and lime burners were to be found on the Vltava, and at the Rossmarkt, hoofers , wagon and coppersmiths and carpenters settled nearby . This meant that the new town was mainly inhabited by poorer craftsmen of Czech nationality, who had always dominated the older villages near the river, while the old town continued to be dominated by Germans and Jews. These great economic and national differences caused the clear separation of the two cities and were ultimately decisive for the clashes during the Hussite revolution at the end of the reign of Wenceslas IV.

    Lower Neustadt

    As the main parish church of the New Town (ecclesia parochialis primaria) , the church of St. Heinrich and Kunigunde (Kostel sv. Jindřicha) was built as a four-bay building with three naves of equal height near an older settlement from 1350 - i.e. immediately after the completion of the walling . Before the construction of the free-standing bell tower , the tower on the south-west corner of the church probably fulfilled this function. The parish school belonging to the church can also be traced back to the founding of Charles, which was still one of the best schools in Bohemia in the 16th and 17th centuries and, next to the university, was the most prestigious educational institution in Prague. Not far from the church - on the site of the main post office (Budova Hlavní pošty) built between 1871 and 1874 - was the botanical garden of Charles University, the Angel Garden, which was laid out by the pharmacist and personal physician Charles IV Angelus of Florence , the Angel Garden , which was famous in Europe for its uniqueness.

    The economic center of the northern part of the city was the hay and straw market, which is generally equated with today's Heuwaagsplatz (Senovažné náměstí). However, Wilfried Brosche was able to make it probable that the Heumarkt was planned in a similar way to the Rossmarkt. After that, today's Hybernergasse (Hybernská ulice) formed the southern boundary of the market. It was the first street in the New Town to be paved as early as 1379 (strata lapidae) and thus received its older name Pflastergasse (Dlážděná ulice). The market ran along an old road to Kutna Hora (Kutna Hora) and was the main link to the east. At the exit of the old town, in the extension of Zeltnergasse (Celetná), the "Ragged or Tattered Gate" (Odraná brána) or later St. Ambrosius Gate rose. A renewal of the gate was apparently already planned under Charles IV. Today's Powder Tower (Prašná brána) was only built around 1475. The mountain or Vitus Gate (Horská braná) in the walls of the New Town formed the upper end.

    Karl also had a monastery built at the lower end of the Heumarkt . In 1355 he settled the Benedictines of the Milan Rite. The monastery and church were consecrated to St. Ambrose to commemorate Charles' coronation as King of Lombardy on January 5th of the same year in the Milan Cathedral , of which the saint had been bishop in the 4th century. Not far from the monastery, probably opposite the St. Benedict's Gate in the old town, there was also a Johannes-Jakobsspital, which served to care for the poor.

    The second important street in the Lower New Town was Na Poříčí Street. It goes back to an old connection that began at the St. Benedict Gate in the old town and led through the existing settlement on the Vltava. In the east, the Peter Gate or Poříč Gate (Pořičská brána) was built as part of the city fortifications of the New Town (demolished in 1873). The two originally Romanesque churches of St. Peter (Kostel sv. Petra na Poříčí) and St. Clemens am Poříčí (Kostel sv. Klimenta na Poříčí) also underwent extensive expansions and renovations in the second half of the 14th century.

    Apparently there was a larger open space between the old settlement and the new quarters north of the Rossmarkt, which began approximately at the height of the St. Heinrichs Church and was only sparsely developed and mainly occupied with gardens and green spaces.

    Upper New Town

    Myslíkova Street, New Town

    The upper new town was given much greater importance. An older road to Vyšehrad and on to South Bohemia became the longest Prague road and the backbone of the Upper New Town - today's Spálená, Vyšehradská and Na Slupi streets. It began at St. Martin's Gate or Zderaz Gate on Perštýn and formed the extension of an important old town street. Although the traffic at the southern end of the new town was now routed over the Vyšehrad, a path continued to the only tower in the south, which at the deepest point of the town wall had an impassable gate and the water passages of the Botič brook and the Mühlgraben secured. In the areas on the Vltava River, consideration had to be given to the existing settlements of Opatovice, Zderaz and Podskalí and the old narrow and winding streets were retained here (only through the construction of the Vltava Quay and the redesign of almost all areas near the bank at the end of the 19th century). and by the beginning of the 20th century, most of the buildings including some churches and the old structures had both been removed.)

    On the other hand, in the previously largely uninhabited area east of the path leading to Vyšehrad, the planned layout of wide parallel streets in a rectangular scheme, which can still be clearly seen today. The grain trade took place in the two almost 27 m wide streets that crossed the cattle market at right angles; they were then named Korngasse (Žitná ulice) and Barley Street (Ječná ulice). At the end of Barley Street, also called Swine Street (Svinský trh, Svinská ul.), As it was also used for the small livestock trade, there was the fourth gate, the Pig Gate, near the older Church of St. John on the Battlefield (Kostel sv. Jan na Bojišti) (Svinská brána) or St. John's Gate. While the other gates consisted of a passage and two flanking towers, the Johannestor was designed as a gate fortress. It consisted of a through courtyard with barrel-vaulted rooms on both sides, above which lay a wide cornice with eight corner towers and another taller tower at the front above the archway. The gate also secured the entry of a stream into the New Town, the water of which also fed the fish pond of the former Rybníček settlement. (Although the gate and the adjoining city wall were demolished in 1891–1897, the remains of the gate were excavated during construction work on the I. P. Pavlova metro station and some tiles with old country coats of arms and the fragments of a relief with the Bohemian lion, which are now in the vestibule of the Metrostation are on display.) Apart from the two inaccessible gates, the Johannestor formed the last entrance up to the east gate of Vyšehrad, so that the other paths south of the Gerstengasse also led to the gate. These are probably all of older origin or were not created through targeted construction and adapt to the complicated height conditions in this area, which, apart from church facilities, remained largely undeveloped.

    In the middle of the street, Karl IV had. By widening to the east the cattle market (Dobytčí trh), today's Charles Square (Karlovo náměstí) invest. With an area of ​​around 550 × 150 m, this was for a long time the largest square in Europe and the administrative and economic center of the new town. It mainly served the cattle, fish, timber and coal trade and has only recently lost its central function to Wenceslas Square .

    In the middle of the cattle market, in the extension of Gerstengasse, Charles IV had a wooden tower built, from which the imperial regalia and relics have been publicly displayed once a year since 1354 . The healing festival was designated by Charles as a general public holiday in the empire, making Prague one of the most important pilgrimage centers in Europe. The Chapel of the Holy Blood or Corpus Christi was built next to the wooden tower between 1382 and 1393 and was demolished in 1791. A cuboid tower rose above the octagonal central church with adjoining chapels, from the access of which the relics and coronation jewels were shown.

    Neustädter Rathaus on Karlsplatz

    In a dominant location on the northeast corner of the cattle market, the town hall of the New Town of Prague (Novoměstská radnice) was built as a symbol of the independent royal town from 1367 or from 1377 (the first documentary mention dates from this year ) . The other sides of the cattle market were built on quite quickly after the construction of the square, with members of the nobility and the royal court in particular settling here. On the south side, for example, stood the Gothic palace of the princes of Troppau (Opava) , the property of which stretched far south.

    Possible models for the urban layout of the New Town of Prague

    When asked what Charles IV was looking for when planning the New Town, Rome was named as a model, primarily because of the wide, straight streets and the mighty city gates. In the same way, one should always think of the visible imperial idea of ​​creating a roma nova , which was represented in a similar way by Charlemagne with Aachen , Otto I with Magdeburg and Heinrich II with Bamberg . Right-angled city systems or extensions, even if not of this size, were also to be found in Central Europe and especially in the Bohemian area, so that Charles IV could have found his role models in these too. The often-cited reference to Jerusalem , on the other hand, is more of a religious nature and reflects the idea of ​​creating a new “castle of God”. W. Brosche counts for the time "[...] around 1400 within the Neustadt area [...] three hospitals with churches or chapels, nine monasteries with a total of ten consecrated sites, fourteen parish churches with three additional chapels, plus the town hall chapel; Added to this are the consecrated places on the Vyšehrad secured with patronage, so that the new town with 40 churches had already considerably lapped the old town with its 35 churches by the end of the century. "

    Canons and monks of almost all orders, including from remote European countries, were brought to Prague for the monasteries and monasteries . The Benedictines of St. Ambrosius from Milan , the Augustinians from France at Karlshof, the Servites to the Blessed Virgin on the lawn from Florence and the Slavic Benedictines in the Emmaus monastery from Croatia . The Maria Schnee monastery was probably occupied by Saxon Carmelites .

    City map of Prague from 1885

    The importance of the New Town of Prague

    Ostrovní Street in the New Town

    As a result of Charles IV's measures, Prague became the fourth largest city north of the Alps after Paris , Ghent and Bruges with 40,000 inhabitants in 1378 . In terms of its area, it was even the largest city in Europe after Rome and Constantinople . If one compares Prague with the other medieval cities in Europe and especially with the founding cities of the 12th to 14th centuries, the special position of Prague New Town becomes clear. Charles IV. “[...] designed the largest urban planning project of the Middle Ages, which was unrivaled in Europe at the time. In the middle of the 14th century there is not a second city in Europe in which a closed building project was organized and carried out over an area of ​​over two square kilometers. There is no other city in which streets 18 to 27 meters wide were laid out, where an arterial road was three quarters of a kilometer long and over 60 meters wide, and where the central market square alone extended over an area larger than an entire city at that time their walls. The real administrative, cultural and economic center of Central Europe was planned and built here. ” (Lorenc, Neustadt 13f.)

    In 1991 the New Town of Prague had 34,991 inhabitants. In 2001 the district consisted of 1,400 residential buildings in which 28,113 people lived.

    Secular buildings


    The monastery and collegiate churches

    Like the parish churches, the St. Peter and Paul Church of the Canons was rebuilt and expanded to become a Holy Sepulcher in the Zderaz settlement . Charles IV had numerous other monastery and collegiate churches built on special land dominants. Similar to the monastery of St. Mary of the Snow , he had established an important monastery on a spur of the upper terrace on the old road to Vyšehrad even before the new town was founded. In the immediate vicinity of the old parish church of the rafters' parish Podskalí St. Cosmas and Damian , he settled on the site of the Vyšehrad cathedral chapter with the consent of Pope Clement VI. on November 22, 1347 Benedictine monks from Croatia who used the Old Slavic liturgy. After them, the monastery church, consecrated in 1372, was named Marienkirche by the Slavs (Klášter panny Marie na Slovanech). On the same street a Servite monastery was built further south in 1360 with the church of St. Mary on the lawn (Kostel P. Marie na trávničku) or ... on the column (Na slupi). In 1355 the Augustinian hermit convent of St. Catherine (Kostel sv. Kateřiny) was founded, which Karl donated out of gratitude for his first victory on November 25, 1332 at the Castle of San Felice in Italy. The building was consecrated on November 29, 1367.

    Overall, it can be observed that parish and monastery churches were often either linked to previous churches or were built near existing settlements or roads. In contrast, Charles IV founded two collegiate churches in particularly exposed but long uninhabited places. Around 1362 the collegiate monastery St. Apollinaris (Kostel sv. Apolináře) was established on the Windberg (Větrná hora or Na větrník) .

    At the highest point of the new fortification in the southeast, the city fortifications in the painter's tower, where a small gate existed, bent to the north. This situation almost forced the construction of a third castle-like facility next to Hradschin and Vyšehrad, the so-called Karlshof . In 1350 Charles IV settled here Augustinian canons from France.

    The newly founded collegiate and monastery churches in the upper Neustadt also differed from the parish churches in that they were founded on the edge of urban settlement or that their entire surroundings remained almost entirely free. The slopes and plateaus east of the Na slupi road and south of the St. Catherine monastery were covered only by vineyards and extensive green areas. Not least because of this, a further urban planning concept of the Vyšehrad in particular was clearly visible. The five church buildings mentioned form a cross with arms of almost the same length, in the middle of which is the St. Apollinaris monastery. The imaginary crossbeam ends with the Karlshof and the Emmauskloster in towerless church buildings, while the churches with the octagonal towers on the upper floor form the longitudinal beam. In the extension it aims exactly at the Vyšehrad, which was thus also included in the concept.

    Other monastery and collegiate churches in New Town:

    The parish and cemetery churches

    The parish church of the newly settled areas in the Upper New Town was St. Stephen's Church (Kostel sv. Štěpána), which was built between 1351 and 1394. The church was built in the immediate vicinity of an older church, a Romanesque rotunda from the 12th century, which had served as the parish church of the Rybníček settlement. Their patronage now passed to the new church; the rotunda was dedicated to St. Longinus ( Rotunda sv. Longina ).

    In the Upper New Town, too, the churches of the existing settlements on the Vltava under Charles IV and Wenceslaus IV were expanded and rebuilt in a Gothic style. A second nave with its own presbytery was added to the south of the St. Adalbert Church (Kostel sv. Vojtěcha v Jirchářich) near the river bank in the settlement of tanners and white tanners around 1370 . The originally Romanesque parish church of St. Michael (Kostel sv. Michala) in the Opatovice settlement received a new choir and, towards the end of the 14th or beginning of the 15th century, the two aisles. The church of St. Peter na struze, which has not been preserved, was also built .

    To the west of the parish church of St. Wenceslas on the Zderaz (Kostel sv. Václava na Zderaze), King Wenceslaus IV had a small Gothic castle built on a promontory over the banks of the Vltava from 1380 , which was probably two-story with vaulted rooms, had a five-story tower and was at least was surrounded by two crenellated walls. In connection with the elevation to the castle church, a Gothic reconstruction of the St. Wenceslas Church took place before 1399.

    The churches of St. John the Baptist and St. Nicholas, located below Vyšehrad, also experienced similar enlargements. Until around 1380, other small churches were built, such as the Trinity Church south of the Emmauskloster , which around 1420 was a Gothic church of St. Antonius replaced the St. Andrew's Church, St. Michael am Slup (Na slupi) and the Church of the Virgin Mary under Vyšehrad and the associated St. Elisabeth Hospital .

    The Judengarten

    Near the hospital with the St. Lazarus Church - both were discontinued at the beginning of the century without a prior study - still existed an older Jewish cemetery, the Jews Garden (Židovská zahrada). He had already been privileged under Ottokar II in 1254. The settlement of Jews in the immediate vicinity was further promoted by Charles IV and Wenceslaus IV. However, it did not develop to the desired extent, so that in 1478 the Jewish cemetery was closed and the area was parceled out and built on. Instead of the Jews, who preferred to settle in the ghetto in the old town, the butchers had already built their houses here, and their market hall with 100 meat banks was built before 1349 north of the Neustadt town hall.


    • V. Huml, Z. Dragoun, R. Novy: The archaeological contribution to the problematic of the development of Prague in the period from the 9th to the middle of the 13th century and the recording of the results of the historical-archaeological research of Prague. Journal for Archeology of the Middle Ages 18/19 (1990/91), pp. 33–69.
    • František Graus : Prague as the center of Bohemia 1346–1421 . In: Emil Meynen (Hrsg.): Centrality as a problem of medieval urban history research . Urban research. Series A: Representations Vol. 8. Cologne / Vienna 1979, ISBN 3412032794 .
    • Vilém Lorenc: Charles IV's Prague. The New Town of Prague . Stuttgart 1982, ISBN 3421025762 .
    • Nové Město pražské. 1348-1784. Prague 1998, ISBN 8085394197 .
    • Ferdinand Seibt (Ed.): Emperor Karl IV. Statesman and Patron [accompanying volume for exhibitions Nuremberg and Cologne 1978/79]. Munich 1978, ISBN 3791304356 (Several articles, especially to be mentioned is W. Brosche: To a model of Prager Neustadt. Pp. 242–249).
    • Jaroslava Staňková, Jiři Štursa, Svatopluk Voděra: Prague. Eleven centuries of architecture. Historical travel guide. Prague 1991, ISBN 80-9000033-9 .
    • Umělecké památky Prahy 1. Nové Město, Vyšehrad, Vinohrady (Praha 1). Prague 1998, ISBN 8020006273 .

    Web links

    Commons : New Town of Prague  - collection of images, videos and audio files

    Individual evidence

    1. Michal Flegl: Travel Guide Olympia. Prague , Olympia-Verlag Prague, 1988, p. 242ff.