Prague: Visiting Good King Wenceslas

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As it is “Travel Tuesday” and it is also is St Stephen’s Day, it seemed natural for me to write about my visit to Wenceslas Square in Prague.

First who was this Wenceslas? While the Christmas carol has him as a king, he was actually the Duke of Bohemia, and later a Christian martyr and saint. It was only after his death that he was proclaimed a king.

Cosmas of Prague cites him for his acts of charity and alms, and it is in this vein that we see him in the carol of the Feast of Stephen.  Wandering through the snow to give relief to the down trodden. Despite his piety, he was assassinated by supporters of his ambitious younger brother in 935.

The Wenceslas Square bears his name, and features a equestrian statue of him.  It is located near the main rail station, and features the National Museum on its southeast end.  The square has a long broad pedestrian area with benches, and the roadsides which border the square are lined with cafes, and eateries.

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Wenceslas Square from National Museum

The statue of Wenceslas attract a large number of tourists, and the plinth area seems especially busy both with people resting, and those getting their selfies in.  The National Museum while an impressive piece of architecture, has been closed for renovations since 2011.  It is still worth seeing, and on the side closest to the railway station, it is interesting to see the bullet scars left on it by Warsaw Pact troops during the suppression of the Prague Spring of 1968.


National Museum from Wenceslas Square



Accommodation Note:

I stayed at the The Hotel Balbin while in Prague.  It is in an excellent location near the Wenceslas Square, National Museum and main rail station. The Museum tram and Metro stations are a short walk (turn right on Vinohradska from Balbinova), and the Italska tram stop is even closer (turn left on Vinohradska). With this said, the hotel is nice, but not “disabled friendly.” There is a flight of stairs to climb to reach the lift (which is small), and another smaller flight from the lift to the reception.

With the disabled proviso made, the hotel rooms are clean, and spacious. The staff are polite, speak good English, and are really professional – seeking to be as helpful as possible (more on this shortly).

I would normally have rated the Balbin highly (even if just for the quality of service). However, on the morning of my stay, the keys to the kitchen had been locked in, so I was informed there would be a long wait for breakfast while other keys were sought. As I was not able to put off my other plans for the day, the receptionist went out an brought back bread and cheese, etc. and did his best to make a small cold breakfast.

Pluses: good location, okay rooms, SUPER STAFF. Negatives: Mobility options limited, and unfortunately the breakfast debacle.


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