Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí)
Every metropolis has a place where the nation’s mood resounds. In Prague it is Wenceslas Square, where Czechs have expressed their stance many times in history. It was beneath the statue of St Wenceslas that the Czechoslovak Republic was declared in October 1918, and in 1939 demonstrations organized against the Nazi occupation, then against the invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops in August 1968. Wenceslas Square also witnessed the self-immolation of Jan Palach on 16 January 1969. Subsequent events confirmed that his sacrifice was not in vain. It was the so-called Palach Week, organized by Charter 77 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the student’s death that became the moment of Czech society’s political awakening, in January 1989. Tens of thousands converged here after 17 November 1989 to express their desire for freedom. Václav Havel, Alexander Dubček and many others spoke out on those November days from the Melantrich palazzo balcony.
Deeper information… To recall Jan Palach, there is an unpretentious monument in the form of a cross nestled into the pavement outside the National Museum, evocative of a prone male figure. In addition to Jan Palach, attentive passers-by will find another name inscribed there: Jan Zajíc was another young student who followed Palach’s example, choosing to die by setting fire to himself in the passageway of one of the buildings on Wenceslas Square.
- Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí)
- Václavské náměstí
- Praha 1- Nové Město
Information source: Prague City Tourism