Cellars and Chapel of the Old Town Hall
The Old Town Hall does not include just the Astronomical Clock or the Tower, but you can visit here also its halls or a unique underground and the chapel from which you can see how the astronomical clock machine functions.
1. The Romanesque cellars
The town hall cellars will take you on a journey through the oldest history of Prague’s Old Town. They were formerly at a level of 2–8 metres under today’s streets. However, the land was often flooded by the Vltava at that time and so it had to be artificially raised. During the 13th century, the original ground floors of the Romanesque houses became underground areas which began to be used as cellars. There are now about 70 houses which were originally built beneath the current level of the road in the territory of the Old Town.
2. The Gothic cellars
It is just a few steps from the Romanesque hall to a stone pit which originally served as a cistern for rainwater. At the end of the corridor, you can also see an entrance portal which formerly led into the street, but is now located four metres under the surface. The tour leads through several different houses, as is borne out by the differing ground levels. The gothic portal opens into a small room which was originally a medieval alley between two houses. It was vaulted rather than filled in during the raising of the terrain level and a gothic house was built above it. It is paved with pebbles from the environs of the Vltava River.
3. The Chapel of the Virgin Mary
The tour of the Old Town Hall’s interior begins on the first floor of the town hall tower; in the Chapel of the Virgin Mary. Its interior decorations have been modified several times in the past, a fact which is recalled by the memorial plaques to the left of the entrance. The oldest of them dates from 1481, a transcription of it dating from the 19th century hangs on the right and the plaque in the middle recalls the renovation of the chapel in 1857.
The Chapel includes a pentagonal oriel window, on the sides of which there are neo-gothic statues of Saint Anne, Jesus’ grandmother, and Saint Joseph dating from 1887. They were created according to designs by Bernard Otto Seeling, one of the most active Czech sculptors of the past. The richly carved prie-dieux date from the 19th century, as do the painted decorations on the walls and severies. The frescos of two angels (torchbearers) on the side alcoves date from 1481.