In spite of its name, Prague’s Lesser Town, or Mala Strana in Czech, is an enchanting, historical, romantic, important part of the city. It was named as it sits right under the Prague Castle but has always been a place for important nobles and business’ people. Its dominant Baroque architecture earned the nickname Baroque Pearl of Prague, after a fire in the 16th century destroyed most of the original buildings and stylish Baroque constructions replaced the old city.
Despite the high concentration of touristic attractions, Mala Strana is a superb quiet suburb at night, with most of the buzzy nightlife concentrated on the other side of the river. Mala Strana is a place for the cultural mind, an inspiring location for those happy to invest a little more to have a truly amazing experience in Prague.
What to do and see?
The Charles Bridge
Surely, one of Prague most iconic features is a must-see (you won’t be able even to avoid it) in Mala Strana. The bridge commissioned by Charles IV in 1357 to be the gate to the Prague Castle and turn Prague into an important trade route between East and West is surrounded by mystery, tragedy, superstition and numerical palindrome. The bridge is walking-only zone and is decorated with statues of saints and Czech figures, each with its unique story. Also a place were artists gather to play classic music, paint sketches and offering stunning views of the Prague Castle and Prague architecture as a whole.
The Prague Castle
The most significant Czech monument, the Prague Castle, founded in around 880 AD by Prince Bořivoj of the Premyslid Dynasty.
The castle rests on a hill above the Vltava river, making it an unmistakable and high visible monument.
Protected by UNESCO World Heritage, the site consists of a large-scale of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings, from the remains of Romanesque-style constructions from the 10th century through Gothic modifications of the 14th century.
It is considered the biggest castle complex in the world, with a staggering area of almost 70,000 m2, and the castle attracts approx. 1.8 million visitors every year.
The geometrically designed garden was built between 1623 to 1629 representing early Baroque spreads between the palace, the Valdštejn Riding School and Letenská Street.
Featuring fountains, palaces and having the Prague Castle just above it makes this place a fairy-tale garden much loved by locals and tourists. The gardens are open all year long and reserve about 1 hour to enjoy its beauty.
St. Nicholas Church
With a characteristic 20 metres dome that can be seen from most parts of town, the St Nicholas Church, in Mala Strana is one of the most valuable Baroque buildings north of the Alps.
The church was built between 1704-1755 to replace a Gothic church from the 13th century also dedicated to Saint Nicholas, and was ordered by the Jesuits with the new design by Giovanni Domenico Orsi.
“The most impressive example of Prague Baroque” – this is how the interior of the church is known, having an interior height to the top of the lantern at stunning 49 metres, the church excels not only in the architecture, but also in the decoration. Frescos by Jan Lukas Kracker and a fresco inside the 70 m high dome by František Xaver Palko. The interior is further decorated with sculptures by František Ignác Platzer.
The manmade island is cut by the Certovka stream (Devil’s Canal) which was dug to power water mills. The island is a beautiful piece put together. A romantic square under the Charles Bridge houses restaurants and seasoned exhibitions telling the history of Prague. Further ahead, you will find the green Kampa Park and the gallery of modern art, a lovely walk to see Prague’s beauty by different angles.
Petřín Hill is an oasis of peace right in the centre of Prague, displaying one of the largest urban green areas in town.
Easy to find and to access, the hill has a winding pathway that leads to the Rose Garden right on the top, where you can also find the Mirror Maze, the Cathedral of Saint Lawrance, St Michael Church and a replica of the Eiffel Tower, built in 1891, where its 299 steps to the top amaze visitors with extensive lookout to Prague.
Or if you want to look up the stars, the Štefánik Observatory has stood in Petřín since 1928 offering a permanent exhibition about astronomy.
There is a little tram taking tourists to the top, and the ticket is the normal public transport tickets.
Memorial to the Victims of Communism
The Memorial to the Victims of Communism is an unusual monument found at the bottom stairs of Petrin Hill. Seven naked bronze male figures are descending down a staircase. The foremost figure is intact; however each sculpture appears to further decay and lose more of their anatomy with every step you climb. The last sculpture is nothing more than a pair of feet.
This powerful series of sculptures was designed to symbolize the immense suffering experienced during dark Communist era of 1948 to 1989. It’s dedicated to all who lost their lives or suffered at the hands of the Soviet Union.
Church of Our Little Lady Victorious – Infant Jesus of Prague.
The Church of Our Lady Victorious is located in Prague’s Malá Strana district (on the same side of the river as Prague Castle). Originally, the church was a chapel dedicated to the Holy Trinity, and was built in 1584. The current church was built in 1611 – 1613 by German-speaking Lutherans. In 1628, the church welcomed its most famous inhabitant, the Infant Jesus of Prague (in Czech, Pražské Jezulátko). According to legend, the Infant Jesus protected the city from an outbreak of the plague in the 17th century and operated countless miracles, being a very popular church to most Catholic countries in the world.