Prague Little Quarter - A Short Introduction
The Prague Little Quarter (Malá Strana) is the part of Prague least affected by recent history. Hardly any new building has taken place here since the late 18th century. The quarter is rich in splendid Baroque palaces and old houses with attractive sings.
Founded in 1257, it's built on the slopes below Castle Hill with stunning views across the river to the Old Town.
The center of the Prague Little Quarter has always been Little Quarter Square (Malostranské náměstí), dominated by the Church of St. Nicholas. The Grand Prior's mill-wheel at Kampa Island still turns and pilgrims still kneel before the Holy Infant of Prague.
Wallenstein Palace and Garden - Little Quarter
The first large secular building of the Baroque era in Prague, the palace stands as a monument to the fatal ambition of imperial military commander Albrecht von Wallenstein. His string of victories over the Protestants in the 30 Years' War made him vital to Emperor Ferdinand II.
Already showered with titles, Wallenstein soon started to covet the crown of Bohemia. Finally, he dared to begin independent negotiations with the enemy, resulting in his death on the emperor's orders by mercenaries in 1634
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Chuch Of St. Thomas Little Quarter
Kostel sv. Tomáše
Founded by Wenceslas II in 1285 as the monastery church of the Augustinians, the original Gothic church was completed in 1379. In the Hussite period, this was one of the few churches to remain Catholic.
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Church Of St. Nicholas
Kostel svatého Mikuláše
The Church of St. Nicholas divides and dominates the two sections of Little Quarter Square. Construction began in 1703, and the last touches on the glorious frescoed nave are from 1761.
It's the acknowledged masterpiece of father-and-son architects Christoph and Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, Prague's greatest exponent of High Baroque.
The statues, frescoes, and paintings inside the church are by leading artists of the day. Extensive renovations in the 1950s reversed the damage caused by 200 years of leaky cladding and condensation.
Kampa Island Prague Little Quarter
Kampa, an island formed by a branch of the Vltava known as the Devil's Stream, is a peaceful corner of Prague Little Quarter. The stream got its name in the 19th century, allegedly after the diabolical temper of a lady who owned a house nearby in Maltese Square.
The stream was a millrace for centuries and from Kampa, you can see the remains of three old mills. Beyond the Grand Prior's Mill, the stream disappears under a small bridge below the piers of Castle Bridge.
Prague Little Quarter Square
The square has been the center of life in Little Quarter since its foundation in 1257. It was a large marketplace in the outer bailey of Prague Castle. Construction sprang up in the middle of the square dividing it in half. A gallows and pillory stood in its lower part.
Most of the houses around the square have a medieval core, but all were rebuilt in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The splendid Baroque church of St Nicolas dominates the center of the square. The large building beside it was a Jesuit college.
Along the upper side of the square, facing the church runs the vast Neo-Classical facade of Lichtenstein Palace. In front of it stands a column raised in honor of the Holy Trinity to mark the end of a plague epidemic in 1713.
Other buildings on Little Quarter Square
Other important buildings include the Little Square Town Hall with its splendid Renaissance facade and the Sternberg Palace, built on the site of the outbreak of the fire of 1541, which destroyed most of the Little Quarter. Beside it stands the Smiřický Palace. Its turrets and towers make it an unmistakable landmark on the northern side of the lower square.
The Baroque Kaiserstein Palace is on the eastern side. On the facade is a bust of the great Czech soprano Emmy Destinn, who lived there between 1908 and 1914. She often sang with the famous Italian tenor Enrico Caruso.
Relax in Petřín Park
A short walk from the heart of Little Quater you'll find the scenic Petřín Park, with some of the best views of Prague and the wider area. Enjoy a romantic stroll around the fragrant rose garden, get lost in the mirror maze, and don’t forget to check out the observatory.
If you happen to be there on 1st May, join others in laying flowers by the statue of Karel Hynek Mácha, ‘the poet of love’. On any day of the year, kissing your partner in front of the statue is said to ensure lasting love. It’s a steep climb up the hill to the park, so there’s the option to take a funicular instead.
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