Charles Square (Karlovo náměstí) is the largest Gothic square in Europe. It was built as part of the New Town in 1348 and emperor Charles IV intended it to be the main space in Prague and the whole of the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation. In the Emperor’s mind, Prague was not only the “second“ Rome but also, and more importantly, a reflection of the ideal heavenly Jerusalem which would be the focal point of the entire Christian world. This is why a majestic Corpus Christi Chapel was built in the centre of the square, and used to display the most treasured remains that Charles IV could obtain: the Holy Lance, the Holy Nail or the Holy Thorn from Christ’s crown.
Unfortunately, Charles’s grand political plans did not materialize. Following his death, Prague and the whole of Bohemia quickly started losing their significance. The definitive end of the glorious era came after the Hussite wars which symbolically broke out in this very place, following the defenestration of the royal burgomaster and some town council members, who were thrown out of the windows of the Novoměstská Radnice (New Town Hall). Prague ceased to be the capital of the Roman Empire and the Square was pushed to the fringes of the city. The Corpus Christi Chapel was unfortunately closed and later demolished during the enlightenment reforms. The space in the Square got its definitive look in the 19th century, when a huge romantic park was built there.
Apart from the Gothic New Town Hall, there are other remarkable landmarks on the Square, e.g., the Saint Ignatius Jesuit Church or the Faust House – relating to the legend of a scholar who forfeited his soul in his pathological quest for knowledge. Of the modern buildings, it is worth mentioning the Modernist house on the corner of Ječná Street, the Functionalist building on the eastern part of the square or the nearby buildings from the 1960s which supplement the historical space of the Emauzský Monastery in a remarkable way.