In continuing coverage of Christmas markets in Europe (late-2010), the following entry is about a well-known famous plaza or square in Prague.
Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Square) is a place laced with history, especially in recent times when the square was host to hundreds of thousands of people in peaceful protest, as the communist regime was brought to a relatively peaceful end in 1989. Some have called this time “The Velvet Revolution”; others have labeled the time as “The November Events”. The speed at which events transpired was remarkable; Timothy Garton Ash said to Václav Havel :
In Poland it (revolution) took ten years, in Hungary ten months, in East Germany ten weeks: perhaps in Czechoslovakia it will take ten days!
(from “The Magic Lantern: The Revolution of `89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Buadpest, Berlin, and Prague”, 1993.)
Since the 1990s, Wenceslas Square has been overrun by a mixture of department stores, coffee shops, souvenir shops, currency exchanges, restaurant traps, and tourist hordes, though friends in the hospitality industry in Prague have observed far fewer visitors over the last few years.
Locals would rarely consider visiting the square. However, when the skies darken after 4pm and the lights are turned on, the locals might reconsider their reluctance and come back for a sip or a bite.
Wenceslas Square is one of the venues for Christmas markets in Prague, and tourists are not discouraged by the cold or snow. Wandering from one stall to another with a cup of hot Svařák (mulled wine) in hand, a sample of languages overhead include Czech, German, Spanish, Italian, North American English, British English, with a sprinkling of Mandarin Chinese. Prague Christmas Markets (Vanocni trhy v Praze) are described for example in English at the this website and in another article from The Prague Post.
At one point while I was photographing the lights, a couple in their sixties stopped to ask me a question.
- A (gentleman): Entschuldigung, sprechen Sie Deutsch? – Excuse me, do you speak German?
- B (me): Ja, ein bisschen. – Yes, a little.
- A: Wie kommen wir zum Moldau? – How do we get to the Moldova (Vltava) river?
- B: Gerade hier zum Ende Wenzelsplatz, links biegen, danach können Sie nur 20 bis 25 Minuten zu Fuss erreichen. – Walk straight to the end of the square here, turn left, and you’ll reach the river in 20 to 25 minutes.
- A: Vielen Dank! – Thank you!
- B: Bitte sehr! – You’re welcome!
This is only an example of the surreal zaniness that is my travelogue. I hope the couple found their way to the river.
With their ‘flagship’ store on Wenceslas Square, Bat’a is a company I’d seen in Vancouver and Toronto, but I never knew of their Czech origins. It’s worth noting that Bat’a Shoes began in (the former) Czechoslovakia in 1894 when the siblings Tomás, Anna, and Antonín Bat’a registered the company name for the first time.
The next set of photographs made at Old Town Square are found here.
The photos above were made in Wenceslas Square on 4 December 2010 with the Canon EOS450D camera, EF 50mm/1.4 lens, and no tripod. Published initially 15 Dec 2010 on Posterous, this post now appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.