Wenceslas Square — it’s more like a rectangle than a square– has played an important role in the history of this city and country.
It got it’s name during the Revolution of 1848 (Czechs fighting to be free of the Austrian empire). It was the scene of huge demonstrations for national independence in 1918 (freedom from Austro-Hungarian Empire) and in 1968 it was where the citizens of Prague tried to stop Russian tanks from advancing into their city. Then in 1989, the Velvet Revolution which eventually led to the end of Soviet rule reached a high point here.
Today, Wenceslas Square is like an outdoor shopping mall and, as a tourist, you would be unaware of its historical significance without doing some research. No historical markers…not even around the statue of Wenceslas.
While the Czechs ultimately gained their freedom, the Soviets left their mark on the city with drab, utilitarian buildings that scar the otherwise beautiful architectural landscape.
The Czechs have tried to brighten the gray of the Soviet-constructed buildings with colorful paint. It helps. John last visited Prague in 1972 and remembers a solemn, gray city populated with somber people — very different from the colorful, vibrant Prague which surrounds us today.