“Wenceslas Square”, also known as Rossmarkt or Wenzelsplatz began way back in the past when it was founded by Charles IV by means of a royal decree in 1348. It fulfilled its primary function perfectly, being a market place and horse market. The square was renamed to Wenceslas Square in 1848 at the instigation of the revivalist Karel Havlíček Borovský. During the 1940s – 1960s, the square was called “Trafalgar” by the young people of Prague. Since the 1960s, it has borne the name “Under the Tail”, which is characteristic for this place thanks to the statue of St. Wenceslas riding a horse which dates back to 1912.
The Vinohrady Stream once ran through this rectangular square, this being channelled into the sewer system during landscaping. In 1895, electric lighting was introduced in the square and paving stones were laid in the second half of the 19th century. The square has borne witness to many historical events, e.g. reading of the proclamation of an independent and democratic Czechoslovakia as well as being the first place in the world to have had traffic lights installed. Apart from many joyous occasions and technological wonders, the square also experienced crueller moments of human malice, when during the occupation at the time of World War Two, the Nazis held mass demonstrations or Soviet soldiers absurdly bombarded the building of the National Museum thinking that it was the Czech Radio building.
In 2010, 70 buildings belonged to Prague City Council and the rest were owned by foreigners. Beauty and luxury is reflected in several big-name buildings – the Art Nouveau Peterka House designed by Jan Kotěra, Hotel Juliš by Pavel Janák or the prestigious Hotel Rokoko. Some of them are home to offices for companies, publishing houses, theatres and banks. In others, you can have a nice meal, have a rest, buy a souvenir or another original gift.
The square is definitely worth a visit.