The Lesser Town, also known as the Lesser or Little Quarter, clusters around the foothills of Prague Castle
, across the Vltava River
from the Old Town
The Lesser Town (Malá Strana) is 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 its heart is the Baroque Lesser Town Square (Malostranské náměstí). Here, and all around in the cobbled 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 a lovely area to stay in. It is quieter than the Old Town and the New Town, particularly at night. To wander through the almost deserted, lantern lit streets during the evening is an utter delight, affording visitors a real sense of olden day Prague.
Most hotels in the Lesser Town are set in ancient buildings, charmingly restored with many original features intact, and with plenty of character.
Tourists from the other side of the river will pass through the Lesser Town after they cross 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.
The Baroque churches and palaces that give the Lesser Town its main charm date from the 17th and 18th centuries. But there many considerably older pubs and restaurants still surviving, plenty with ancient cellars and terrific tales attached.
Prague is a compact city, so walking from the Lesser Town to the Old Town or New Town is easy. Indeed the centre of the Lesser Town, the Lesser Town Square, is only 10 minutes walk from the centre of the Old Town, the Old Town Square.
To discover more about the Lesser Town, take a Prague tour:
Prague Grand City Sightseeing Tour
Prague Grand City Sightseeing Tour & Boat
Prague All Inclusive Walking Tour & Boat.