A Guide to Prague’s Historical Quarters: Little Quarter
Prague is unlike any other city in Europe. It will captivate you with all of its beautiful buildings and historic sites just waiting to be explored. And, explore you must! Use this guide to Prague’s historic quarter – Little Quarter or Mala Strana – so you don’t miss a thing.
Prague’s Historical Quarters
Did you know that Prague has 5 historical quarters? Each of these 5 historic quarters in Prague offers its own set of must-see sites. Wondering what to do in Prague, refer to these Guides one for each of the other 4 historic quarters:
Most visitors are likely to stroll through Mala Strana, Prague’s Little Quarter, on their way from Charles Bridge to Prague Castle. The amazing views from Prague Castle are of the Little Quarter, and as scenic, as it is, it’s definitely worth exploring. This Guide is all of the top things to do in Prague’s Little Quarter or Mala Strana.
About Prague’s Little Quarter
Mala Strana, founded in 1257, is the large area slopping down from Prague Castle to Charles Bridge and the Vltava River. It was first settled here by Prague’s most wealthy bourgeoise. Unfortunately, it was damaged by a devastating fire in the 15th and 16th centuries and rebuilt in Baroque style.
Very little has changed in this quarter since. The Little Quarter is undeniably enchanting. From its cobblestones to the lantern-lit streets. Stroll through here and you will feel as if you’ve stepped back in time.
Top Things to Do in the Little Quarter
The Little Quarter or Mala Strana begins as you cross through the Lesser Town Tower on Mostecka Street. This street is lined with little shops filled with touristy trinkets, perfect for finding the best souvenirs. Mostecka Street spills into Molstranske Namesti or Little Quarter Square. Historically, this square was used as the marketplace for Prague Castle. Since that time, the square has been split down the middle with buildings on either side. Now let’s explore some other sites.
Church of St Nicolas
The Baroque-styled church with the iconic green dome and bell tower towers has long been part of Prague’s historic skyline. It’s regarded as the most beautiful and famous Baroque church in Prague. A father and son team of Christoph and Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer were the architects, along with other significant buildings in Prague. But it was thought this was their masterpiece. It was built between 1703 and 1761. Famous composers, Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played concerts here.
When visiting the St Nicolas church you can’t help but notice the dome, or cupola, as it soars at 70m high. The fresco is filled with ‘The Celebration of the Holy Trinity dating back to 1754. Among the other highlights are the paintings, statutes, and the pulpit. As one of the best things to do in Prague, climb the belfry where you will be awarded a spectacular view of the city.
After your visit to the Church of St. Nicolas follow the royal procession route to Prague Castle. Nerudova is an ancient cobblestone street once home to craftsmen and artists. It was named after the famous Czech poet, Jan Neruda, who lived at number 47 from 1845 to 1857. This street is full of charm. Because house numbers were not introduced in Prague until 1770, many of the houses on Nerudova Street still have the signs that distinguish who lived there.
A fun thing to do is to stroll and be on the lookout for those ancient signs. Most notable are the Red Eagle (number 6), Three Fiddles (number 12), the Golden Horseshoe (number 34), the Green Lobster (number 43), and the White Swan (number 49).
Hidden Gem Alert
The narrowest street in Prague runs off of U Lužického semináre. It even has its own pedestrian traffic light to go up and down. Seek it out and it brings you down to the Vlata River where you will find some cute cafes and restaurants.
A hidden gem of the Little Quarter is the beautiful terraced gardens of the Furstenberg Palace. On the site of former vineyards and orchards, it’s now an extensive terraced garden, planted with over 3,500 flowers and 8,500 trees. After visiting Prague Castle make your way to the Furstenberg Palace, now home to the Polish Embassy. Look out for a secluded café, and viola you’ve found the entrance to the terraced garden. Visit here in springtime and the gardens will be exploding with blooms and the sweet fragrance of the lilacs.
The name of this attractive-looking square stems from the Knights of Malta who once lived in this part of the Little Quarter, in 1169. Architecture lovers will want to come here to admire the Renaissance buildings that surround the perimeter. In the 17th to 18th centuries the Catholic nobility took over and these became colourful palaces – cream, bright yellow, and pink.
A statue of John the Baptist in the centre of this square is from a fountain erected here in 1715, marking the end of a plague. The plague epidemic in Prague was during the period of 1713-1715 during which many people died. The second monument to mark the end of the plague is The Holy Trinity Column.
John Lennon Wall
One of the places to visit in Prague is the John Lennon wall. The famous Lennon wall can be found a little off the beaten path on Velkoprevorske Namesti, a tiny, quiet square in the Little Quarter. The origins began in the 1980s 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. Eventually, the city of Prague legalized the graffiti now the John Lennon wall frequently receives a fresh coat of paint and then recovered in new graffiti making this look different depending on when you visit.
Visiting Kampa Island is such a peaceful hidden gem just off of the very busy Charles Bridge. This green space in the city is very relaxing with its scenic views of the Vlata River. As one of the free things to do in Prague, visit the Kampa Modern Art Museum, where you’ll find outdoor sculptures. A popular one to seek out is the Crawling Babies, created by David Cerny.
Historically, this area used watermills to power the nearby homes. Today, only two mills remain along the canal, known as Devil’s Stream. It’s such a pretty, picturesque area with tiny stone bridges that allow you glimpses of the former mills flanking either side of the canal.
History buffs will definitely want to seek out the KGB Museum in the Little Quarter. This museum chronicles the timeline of communism in the Czech Republic. Some of the artifacts include a bronzed death mask of Lenin, Trotsky’s murder weapon, weapons, interrogation equipment, photographs, propaganda posters, and more. What makes this one of the most unique attractions in Prague is that the museum is owned and operated by a sole enthusiast. Visit here, and you’re bound to hear a lot of interesting tidbits.
As one of the cool things to see in Prague, this might be it! The Petrin Tower is a copycat of the Eiffel Tower. To reach the highest peak of the city, at 318m, you can either walk through Petrin Park or take a funicular. This observation tower was built for the Jubilee Exhibition in 1891 as an imitation of the larger version in Paris. Climb the 299 for that panoramic view of the city. It’s worth the climb!
A little off the beaten path in the Little Quarter between the historic quarters of Old Town and Prague Castle, is Wallenstein Palace. This impressive palace is not to be missed, as it’s one of the first and largest Baroque palaces to be built in Prague. It was built for the military commander, Albrecht von Wallenstein, in the 17th century. With 23 different houses, 5 courtyards, and 3 gardens, this palace is one of the top attractions in Prague. The exterior grounds and gardens are Instagram-worthy. Taking a stroll through the large French garden, past its many sculptures, fountains and grotto is a lovely and relaxing way to spend a couple of hours in the busy city of Prague. If visiting during the summer months, you might be able to catch a free summer concert in the late afternoons on Thursdays.
Best Places to Stay in Little Quarter
We absolutely lucked when we chose to stay in this historical quarter. Not only is it central to the other historical quarters, but it is much quieter than Old Town and New Town where most tourists choose to stay. One of my favourite things to do in Prague at night was simply to stroll the winding cobblestone streets. In the Little Quarter, it is exceptionally pretty. Most of the streets are lit by gas lanterns and the ambiance is very romantic. The perfect spot for couples to enjoy.
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As a holidaymaker…
Of all of Prague’s historic quarters, the Little Quarter or Mala Strana was my favourite. It’s close to the top attractions like the Charles Bridge, Old Town, and Prague Castle but is in such a quieter and absolutely beautiful part of this Czech city.