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    December 1, 2023

    Exploring Lesser Town: Immersive Cultural Escapade in Prague

    Daylight view of street in Lesser Town, Prague

    If you’re planning a trip to Prague, one neighbourhood you won’t want to miss is Lesser Town. This historic district, also known as Malá Strana, is located on the left bank of the Vltava River and dates back to the 13th century. With its colourful baroque buildings, cobblestone streets, and stunning city views, Lesser Town is a must-visit destination for travellers.

    Lesser Town has a rich history, having been devastated twice. The first was during a battle between the Hussites and the Prague Castle garrison in 1419, and the second was in the Great Fire of the Lesser Town in 1541.

    However, the destroyed houses were replaced with magnificent Renaissance buildings and palaces, and in the 17th and 18th centuries, Baroque churches and palaces were added.

    Today, Lesser Town is one of Prague’s most historic neighbourhoods, featuring many Renaissance burghers’ houses, narrow lanes, and spacious squares.

    It’s also home to some of the city’s most famous landmarks, including the Charles Bridge, St. Nicholas Church, and the Wallenstein Palace. Whether interested in history and architecture or simply strolling through a charming neighbourhood, Lesser Town will captivate you.

    Table of Contents

    Lesser Town’s Unique Geography

    Liechtenstein Palace on Kampa Island, Prague, bordered by Vltava river

    Scenic view of Liechtenstein Palace on Kampa Island, ©Trineso / Shutterstock

    Lesser Town, also known as Malá Strana, is a historic neighbourhood on the left bank of the Vltava River in Prague. Landmarks like Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, and Kampa Island surround the area. The Vltava River flows through the centre of the site, adding to its charm and picturesque beauty.

    The neighbourhood is situated at the foot of Petrin Hill, which provides a stunning view of the city. The hill is also home to several attractions, such as the Petrin Tower, a smaller version of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. You can take a funicular ride to the top of the hill and enjoy the panoramic view of the city.

    The Kampa Island, located in the middle of the Vltava River, is another popular attraction in the neighbourhood. The island is home to several museums, galleries, and restaurants. You can also stroll along the riverbank and enjoy the island’s scenic beauty.

    Overall, the geographical location of Lesser Town is one of the main reasons why it is a popular tourist destination. Its proximity to the Vltava River, Petrin Hill, and Kampa Island provides visitors with a unique experience that is hard to find elsewhere.

    Tracing the Legacy of Lesser Town

    The Lesser Town is a historic neighbourhood on the left bank of the Vltava River. The district dates back to the 13th century, founded as a small settlement. Over the centuries, the area has undergone numerous changes and has been shaped by various historical events.

    Early Settlements

    The area that now comprises the Lesser Town was originally a tiny market settlement that grew up around Prague Castle—the earliest records of the settlement date back to the 8th century. In 1257, King Premysl Otakar II granted the settlement town status, and it became a royal town.

    Middle Ages

    During the Middle Ages, the Lesser Town was an important centre of trade and commerce. The Town was heavily fortified, and defensive walls were built to protect it from invaders.

    In the 14th century, Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV ordered the construction of the Hunger Wall. This defensive wall was built to employ people experiencing poverty during the famine.

    Bronze statue of Emperor Charles IV against blue sky

    Emperor Charles IV bronze statue against a vivid blue sky, ©Kajano / Shutterstock

    Baroque Era

    The Baroque era significantly impacted the architecture of the Lesser Town. Many of the buildings in the district were rebuilt or renovated in the Baroque style.

    The most famous Baroque architects in the area were Christoph and Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer. They designed and built many of the most impressive Baroque buildings in the district, including St. Nicholas Church.

    Church of St. Nicholas in Prague's Lesser Town

    Iconic Church of St. Nicholas stands majestically in Prague’s Lesser Town, ©Adam / Shutterstock

    Modern Era

    The Lesser Town has become a popular tourist destination in the modern era. Visitors come from all over the world to see the district’s historical landmarks and cultural highlights. The Franz Kafka Museum, the Charles Bridge, and Prague Castle are just a few tourist attractions in the area.

    Fountain with statues at Franz Kafka Museum

    Captivating fountain with statues at Franz Kafka Museum, ©Iurii / Shutterstock

    Historical Landmarks

    The Lesser Town has many historical landmarks, including St. Nicholas Church, the Church of Our Lady Victorious, and the Infant Jesus of Prague. The Wallenstein Palace, Jan Neruda’s House, and the Petřín Lookout Tower are popular attractions.

    Purple-lit Petrin Tower in Prague, Lesser Town

    Petrin Tower illuminated in purple LEDs, ©Bucek/ Shutterstock

    Cultural Highlights

    Lesser Town is renowned for its cultural highlights, including Nerudova Street, which is lined with noble palaces and historic buildings. The district is known for its cafes, pubs, and shops, where visitors can sample traditional Czech cuisine and beer.

    Nerudova Street in Prague's Lesser Town

    Vibrant Nerudova Street in Prague’s Lesser Town, lined with colourful buildings, ©den781 / Shutterstock

    Getting Around

    The district is well-connected to other parts of Prague by public transport, including the metro and trams. The Malostranské náměstí stop is the closest metro station to the Lesser Town.

    Tourist Attractions

    The Lesser Town has many tourist attractions, including the Lesser Town Square, Maltese Square, and the Petřín Lookout Tower. Visitors can also explore the Vrtba Garden, renowned for its beautiful architecture and Renaissance-style design.

    Overall, the Lesser Town is a district steeped in history and culture, with many fascinating landmarks and attractions to explore.

    Vrtba Garden, a picturesque oasis in Prague's heart

    Tranquil Vrtba Garden embraced by lush greenery, ©Puscasu / Shutterstock


    What is the history of Lesser Town in Prague?

    Lesser Town, or Malá Strana in Czech, is a historic district located beneath Prague Castle and west of the Vltava River. It was founded in the 13th century and was originally a settlement of artisans and merchants.

    Over time, it became a centre of political and cultural life in Prague. Today, it is known for its stunning architecture, winding streets, and picturesque squares.

    What are the top attractions to see in Lesser Town?

    Lesser Town is home to many of Prague’s most famous attractions, including Prague Castle, St. Nicholas Church, and the Charles Bridge. Other notable sights include Petrin Hill, the John Lennon Wall, and the Lesser Town Bridge Tower.

    How does Lesser Town compare to Old Town Prague?

    While Old Town Prague is known for its bustling energy and vibrant nightlife, Lesser Town is a more peaceful and relaxed neighbourhood. It offers a quieter atmosphere and a chance to experience the city’s rich history and culture in a more intimate setting.

    Where are the best places to eat in Lesser Town?

    Lesser Town has many excellent restaurants and cafes, offering everything from traditional Czech cuisine to international fare. Some popular spots include Cafe Savoy, Mlýnec, or U Magistra Kelly.

    What are some recommended things to do in Lesser Town?

    In addition to visiting the area’s many historic attractions, there are plenty of other things to see and do in Lesser Town. Take a stroll through the beautiful gardens at Wallenstein Palace, explore the charming streets and alleys, or relax and enjoy the stunning views of the city.

    What is the significance of the Lesser Town Bridge Tower in Prague?

    The Lesser Town Bridge Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in Prague. It was built in the 15th century and served as a toll gate for the Charles Bridge. Today, it is a popular tourist attraction and offers stunning city views from its observation deck.



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