Prague was been known to have many nicknames – ‘city of a hundred spires’, ‘the magic city’, ‘the mother of cities’, ‘the city with 100 bell towers’, ‘the golden city’, the Old Town, the New Town, the Jewish Quarter; and the ‘heart of Europe’. Travel to Prague, and you will instantly understand why. It is a captivating city full of beautiful buildings and historical sites just waiting to be explored. This bohemian city built on the hills alongside the Vltava River, features a stunning skyline of gothic spires. It is so photogenic with its cobblestone streets, red rooftops, extensive gardens and brightly coloured buildings.
Prague used to be known as the ‘Five Towns’, although it is divided into 10 separate districts, most visitors tend to concentrate on the five historic towns:
- Hradčany (Castle district)
- Staré Město (Old Town)
- Malá Strana (Little Quarter)
- Nove Mesto (New Town)
- Jewish Quarter
This travel guide is part of a five-part series focusing on each of the five areas at a time. It will highlight some of the area’s best of, so you won’t miss a thing. This is the third one, focusing on Malá Strana, or “little Quarter” or it also used to be known as Lesser Town.
Malá Strana is the large area below Prague Castle to the Vltava River and the Charles Bridge. The wealthy bourgeoise settled here in 1257, but due to devasting fires in the 15th and 16th centuries, everything was rebuilt in Baroque style architecture in pretty pastel-colours. This area is undeniably enchanting – from the cobblestones on the road to the lantern lit streets to the quaint side streets – it is as though you have stepped back in time. In fact, many film crews use this area of Prague as their ancient backdrop.
This is the area we chose to stay in, and we are so glad we did! It is much quieter than Old Town and the New Town (where you will find most accommodations). Wandering around, especially in the evening, was exceptionally romantic and practically deserted.
Key Attractions in Malá Strana
Church of Saint Nicholas
The baroque-styled church with the iconic green dome and bell tower served as our beacon for our apartment, but more importantly, it has long been part of Prague’s historic skyline. Famous composers, Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart both had concerts at this Church. We missed the opportunity to climb to the top of the bell tower, where I can imagine the views of the city must be magical.
John Lennon Wall
The origins began in the 1980’s when locals would add messages on the wall about peace and freedom as a way to revolt against the communist government. When communism eventually ended in 1989, the wall was dedicated to the singer and became a popular place for people to inscribe lyrics, graffiti and messages of peace, love and equality. The wall frequently receives a fresh coat of paint then recovered in new graffiti making this look different depending on when you visit.
This is such a quiet peaceful respite just off of the busy Charles Bridge. This is where the locals come with their families and enjoy the outdoors and take in the incredible scenic views of the Vlata River. It is also where you will find the Kampa Modern Art Museum or where you will find outdoor sculptures, like the Crawling Babies, created by David Cerny. Historically, this area used water mills to power local homes and businesses. Today, only two mills remain along the canal, known as Devil’s Stream. It is a picturesque area with tiny stone bridges that allow you glimpses of the former mills flanking either side of the canal.
A museum that chronicles the country’s touches with communism over time. Some of the artifacts include a bronzed death mask of Lenin, Trotsky’s murder weapon, weapons, interrogation equipment, photographs, propaganda posters, and more. This is a very small museum that is owned and curated by a sole enthusiast. Check hours and availability before you go, we were not fortunate enough to visit.
The Petrin Tower is a copycat of the Eiffel Tower. To reach the highest peak of the city, 318 meters (1, 043ft) high, you can walk or take the funicular. At the top, you will be awarded with panoramic views of the city below. You can wander through the landscaped gardens or climb the tower at 299 steps to the top.
This palace was built for a military in chief, Albrecht von Wallenstein, in the 17th century. It features 26 different houses, five courtyards and a large French garden. The peaceful surroundings of the Wallenstein Garden feature many sculptures, fountains and a grotto is a lovely way to spend a couple of hours. (Photo credit: Prague-Stay.com)
Beyond the Key Attractions
My favourite thing to do is have no itinerary and just get lost in the city streets and see what we can find. Come along and see a bit more of what we saw in Malá Strana.
Are you convinced that you need to spend some time in this historic area of Prague?
Be sure to check out the other four historical areas within this blog series.