This is Prague’s picturesque Little Quarter, situated below the castle, and in many ways the city’s most captivating area. Its many peaceful, often hilly, cobbled backstreets have changed very little since old times. They cover a whole host of quiet terraced gardens, as well as the wooded Petřín Hill and spans up to the Charles Bridge which connect with the Old Town.
The Little Quarter (Lesser Town or Malá Strana), originally called the New Town of Prague and later on called The Minor Town of Prague, was founded by the king Přemysl Otakar II, in the year 1257. However, as early as in the 8th century, there was a market settlement here. After the foundation of the Town, the original settlers were replaced by colonists of mostly foreign nationalities. Charles IV extended the Minor Town of Prague by other plots of land but the Town remained, thanks to several great fires apart from other things, more backward in respect to economy than, and politically dependent on, the Towns on the right bank of Vltava. From the 16th century, feudalists and church orders which gave this part of the city its present appearance, and not only architectural one, gradually started to settle here. As a consequence of this, this part of the city includes Wallenstein Palace (Valdštejnský palác) with its garden, St. Nicholas Cathedral (chrám sv. Mikuláše), Thun (Thunovský pálac ), Buquoy (Buquoysky), Furstenberg (Furstenberský), Hartig (Hartigovský), Kaiserstein (Kaiserstejnský), Kolowrat (Kolowratský), Lichtenstein (Lichtenštejnský), Schonborn (Schonbornský), Lobkowicz Palaces (Lobkovický palác) and many other ones; there are often more palaces per one dynasty. This is also one of the reasons why this part of the city became the residence of many embassies, but also of Czech Parliament and the government which resides in the buildings of the former “Straka’s Academy” (Strakova akademie).
Getting around Lesser Town
The Metro’s A line Malostranská station will take you to Lesser Town; it is the most central stop. But there’s no better way to arrive at Lesser Town than through a nice downhill walk from the Castle or a popular stroll from Old Town across the Charles Bridge, passing Mostecká street leading to the Lesser Town Square. Alternatively take tram 22 from Národní třída (just next to the National Theatre) and in two stops get off just below the Petřín funicular railway to the Petřín Hill.