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BETHLEHEM SQUARE

Old town - Prague 1

GPS: 50°5'3.12"N, 14°25'0.83999999999992"E

The area for creation of the Bethlehem Square rose when the local cemetery was abolished in the end of 18th century due to reforms of Emperor Joseph II. The square is called after the Bethlehem Chapel, which is a memorable place of Czech history. The foundation stone for the construction was laid by Prague archbishop Jan of Jenštejn, by himself, on 27th July 1391. After completion the chapel could hold up to 3 000 of the religious. It became famous especially due to work of reforming priest Jan Hus. His bad destiny in 1415 in front of the Council in Constance is well-known. The Bethlehem Chapel was partially destroyed in 1786 and it was rebuilt to an apartment house. It was renewed during 1948-1954.

Historical house U Halánků no. 269 turns with its front into the square. It has indisputable architectonic and urbanistic quality and it went down in the history indelibly in the period when it had been owned by the Náprstek family. Whether it was owned by Anna Náprstková, notable for her beneficence or great Czech patriot Vojtěch Náprstek (1826-1894). During his life the house U Halánků became a centre of Czech intelligentsia. He established the Czech industrial museum in the house, which was however more and more filled with ethnographic subjects. Thus the foundation stone for a new museum building was laid in the area behind the house U Halánků on the day of Náprstek’s fiftieth birthday, on 17th April 1876. Construction of the three-storied museum building, which has born his name nowadays, was realized during 1885-1890.

We should not omit the house Na Rybárně no. 258, in the southern side of the square. In the present baroque building there used to be the vicarage of church of St Philip and Jacob, which had stood in the cemetery in area of the present square.