At the top of Wenceslas Square, overlooking the boulevard, sits the Národní muzeum (National Museum). Built between 1885 and 1890, this neo-Renaissance palace is covered in decades of grime and the street graffiti that has become common in Prague since the Velvet Revolution. Nevertheless, the building merits a visit, as every niche, corner and column-top boasts elaborate nationalist stonework. The soaring lobby and grand staircase inside are also worth a look, unfortunately far more so than the natural history-related contents of the museum.
In front of the blackened edifice, twin mounds in the cobbled street mark the site of two self-immolations. In January 1969, Czech student Jan Palach set himself on fire to protest against Soviet oppression; the following month, another student named Jan Zajíc did the same. To this day, the mounds are usually covered with flowers and candles.