Malá Strana

View of Malá Strana from the Petřín hill.

Malá Strana (Czech for "Little Side (of the River)", German: Prager Kleinseite) or more officially Menší Město pražské (English: Lesser Town of Prague) is a district of the city of Prague, Czech Republic, and one of its most historic regions.

In the Middle Ages, it was a dominant center of the ethnic German (and since 16th century also Italian) citizens of Prague. It also housed a large number of noble palaces while the right-bank towns were comparatively more bourgeois and more Bohemian Czech.


The name Malá Strana translated into English literally means "Little Side", though it is frequently referred to as "Lesser Town", "Lesser Quarter", or "Lesser Side". This name derives from its position on the left (west) bank of the river Vltava, on the slopes just below the Prague Castle, in opposition to the larger towns of Prague on the right bank, to which it is conjoined by the Charles Bridge.

The town was originally called the New Town beneath the Prague Castle (Czech: Nové Město pod Pražským hradem) after 1257 when it was founded. After Charles IV founded the New Town of Prague in 1348, the town was renamed the Lesser Town of Prague (Czech: Menší Město pražské). In the 17th century the unofficial name Little Quarter (Czech: Malá Strana) was first used.[1]


Malá Strana was founded by the King Ottokar II of Bohemia in 1257.[1] As a royal town (a town founded by the king) it got many privileges. It was created by amalgamating a number of settlements beneath the Prague Castle into a single administrative unit. The original residents were expelled and mostly German craftsmen and merchants were invited by the king. Even though the city was royal, the king did not master the city as a whole.

In the second half of the 14th century the Lesser Town of Prague was extended by the King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV who built a new defensive wall called Hunger Wall.[1]

In 1419-1420 the Lesser Town was burnt down by Hussites. In 1541 the town was strongly damaged again by a fire. Because of the fire 50 people died. After this fire the town was rebuilt in the Renaissance style and many palaces of nobility were built there.[1]

The market place, now known as Malostranské náměstí (Lesser Town Square),[2] was the center of the town. This square is divided into the upper and lower parts with the St. Nicholas Church in the middle.


A view of the Mostecká viewed towards Malostranské Náměstí with the Church of Saint Nicolas in the background just after sunrise
A view of the bridge tower at the end of the Charles Bridge on the side of Malá Strana

Baroque architecture predominates in Malá Strana, but the history of the district dates back to far before the Baroque era. Baroque architecture eventually dominated when the style became successfully implanted on Malá Strana after the district was devastated by fires in 1541.

Points of interest


  1. 1 2 3 4 Dudák, Vladislav (2010). Praha: Průvodce magickým centrem Evropy. Praha: Práh. p. 184. ISBN 978-80-7252-302-3.
  2. Prague: City Guidebook. Praha: Kartografie Praha. 2000. p. 25. ISBN 8070115971.


Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Castle and Lesser Town.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Malá Strana.

Coordinates: 50°05′17″N 14°24′14″E / 50.08806°N 14.40389°E / 50.08806; 14.40389

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 9/5/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.