Prague Lesser Town
The Lesser Town (Mala Strana), also known as the Lesser Quarter, clusters around the foothills of Prague Castle, across the river from the Old Town.
Almost too picturesque for its own good - with its ancient burgher houses, quaint side streets and St. Nicholas Church - the Lesser Town is a favourite setting for movies and commercials.
At the heart of the Lesser Town is a newly renovated baroque square, Lesser Town Square (Malostranske namesti). Here, and all around in the cobblestone side streets, there are small shops to browse, churches to explore and traditional Czech pubs and restaurants to discover; including some with fine views over the river.
The Lesser Town is also a lovely area to stay in (indeed Prague Experience recommends this area over any other in the city). It is quieter than the Old Town and New Town, and the hotels are mainly charmingly restored old buildings with plenty of character. Many tourists will pass through the Lesser Town as they cross over Charles Bridge from the Old Town, and climb Nerudova Street to reach Prague Castle.
The Lesser Town started life in the 8th century as a market settlement. In 1257 Premysl Otakar II granted it town status and in 1360-1362 fortifications were built by order of Charles IV. This has been known for centuries as the Hladova Zed, built, it is believed, to give employment to the poor during a period of famine.
The Lesser Town was devastated twice: first during a battle between the Hussites and the Prague Castle garrison in 1419, and then in the Great Fire of Prague in 1514. Renaissance buildings and palaces replaced the destroyed houses.
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