Prague's Mala Strana, Exploring the Little Quarter

Updated on May 17, 2019
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Having spent twelve days in Prague, Liz and her husband are keen to share their experience and help others planning a visit to the city.

Prague Mala Strana
Prague Mala Strana | Source

Many visitors to Prague walk through Mala Strana, Prague's Little Quarter, on their way from Charles Bridge up to Prague Castle. But whilst appreciating the unspoiled nature of the area as they pass by and climb the hill, a lot of people don't have time to explore further.

Mala Strana was founded in 1257 on the slopes below the Castle hill. It was damaged by fire in the 15th and 16th centuries, and much of it was rebuilt in the Renaissance style. It has changed little since Mozart visited the city in the late 1700s and has much to offer the interested explorer.

Spot Mala Strana between Prague Castle and the River Vltava.
Spot Mala Strana between Prague Castle and the River Vltava. | Source

10 Sights Worth Seeing in Mala Strana

Here are 10 of the sights we visited in Mala Strana, as well as a few we missed and a handy restaurant.

  1. Little Quarter Square
  2. Church of St. Nicholas
  3. Nerudova
  4. Wallenstein Palace
  5. Furstenberg Garden
  6. Maltese Square
  7. John Lennon Wall
  8. Memorial to the Victims of Communism
  9. Observation Tower, Petrin Hill
  10. Vrtba Garden

1. Little Quarter Square

After crossing Charles Bridge from Prague Old Town into Mala Strana, you will soon find yourself on Mostecka, which feeds into Malostranske Namesti, the Little Quarter Square. This square was originally a marketplace in the outer bailey of Prague Castle. It has since been split in half by buildings in the middle, dominated by the church of St. Nicholas and the building next to it, a former Jesuit college.

Although most houses were rebuilt in Renaissance and Baroque times, many around the square still have a medieval core. Opposite the Baroque church of St. Nicholas on the upper square stands the Lichtenstein Palace with its Neo-Classical facade. Visitors can buy tickets to listen to classical concerts here. A column in honor of the Holy Trinity stands in the square outside to mark the end of a plague in 1713.

The lower part of the square has its fair share of impressive buildings with the Little Quarter Town Hall, along with three palaces, the Sternberg (not to be confused with its larger namesake, an art gallery in Hradcany), Smiricky, and Kaiserstein. It was in the Smiricky Palace that the perpetrators of the second defenestration of Prague are said to have met. The group of Protestant Bohemian noblemen made their plan here to throw Catholic councilors out of the Old Palace window in 1618.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The church of St. Nicholas divides the square.The upper side of the square.The Lichtenstein Palace.The column marking the end of a plague in 1713.The lower side of the square.The lower side of the square is a busy tramway.
The church of St. Nicholas divides the square.
The church of St. Nicholas divides the square. | Source
The upper side of the square.
The upper side of the square. | Source
The Lichtenstein Palace.
The Lichtenstein Palace. | Source
The column marking the end of a plague in 1713.
The column marking the end of a plague in 1713. | Source
The lower side of the square.
The lower side of the square. | Source
The lower side of the square is a busy tramway.
The lower side of the square is a busy tramway. | Source

2. Church of St. Nicholas

Not to be confused with its namesake in the Old Town, the Church of St. Nicholas in Mala Strana not only dominates the Little Town Square but its dome and tower also stand out on the Mala Strana skyline. Entry is inexpensive and access is gained from the upper square side. Although renovations were taking place when we visited, these now appear to be finished.

Regarded as the most beautiful and famous Baroque church in Prague, the Church of St. Nicholas was built by the Jesuits between 1703 and 1761. The architects were Christoph and Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, the father and son team responsible for the design of many other buildings across Prague, including the Loreto, Church of St. Nicholas in the Old Town and the Kinsky Palace amongst others. The Church of St. Nicholas in Mala Strana is their masterpiece. Neither lived to see its completion and the church was finished by Anselmo Lurago, Kilian's son-in-law.

The west facade is relatively plain compared with the High Baroque interior. The following sights are worth noting as you marvel at the ornate interior.

Dome Fresco

The dome or cupola of the church is 70 meters high. It is filled by "The Celebration of the Holy Trinity" by Frantisek Palko, which dates from 1753–1754.

Paintings

In addition to the frescoes, there are many paintings in the church by leading artists of the time.

Statues

There are many statues of interest, including those of the four Church Fathers at the corners of the transept. These great teachers were created by Ignaz Platzer.

The Organ

The Baroque organ was built in 1746 and played by Mozart in 1787. Above it, there is a fresco of St. Cecilia (patron saint of music). Concerts take place regularly in the Church of St. Nicholas.

The Pulpit

Adorned with golden cherubs, the pulpit was completed in 1765 by Richard and Peter Prachner.

The Belfry

If ornate church interiors are not really your thing, then the museum of musical instruments in the tower might be of interest. Certainly, the view from here over Mala Strana and Charles Bridge should be a good reward for the climb. I am only sorry that we were not able to access this when we visited.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
View of the Church of St. Nicholas from Vrtba Garden.View of the Church of St. Nicholas from Prague Castle.View from Prague Castle.The dome and tower of the Church of St. Nicholas.Dome fresco.Inside the Church of St. Nicholas.Statue of a Church Father.Gazing up at the dome.The Baroque organ.Side chapel and pulpit.
View of the Church of St. Nicholas from Vrtba Garden.
View of the Church of St. Nicholas from Vrtba Garden. | Source
View of the Church of St. Nicholas from Prague Castle.
View of the Church of St. Nicholas from Prague Castle. | Source
View from Prague Castle.
View from Prague Castle. | Source
The dome and tower of the Church of St. Nicholas.
The dome and tower of the Church of St. Nicholas. | Source
Dome fresco.
Dome fresco. | Source
Inside the Church of St. Nicholas.
Inside the Church of St. Nicholas. | Source
Statue of a Church Father.
Statue of a Church Father. | Source
Gazing up at the dome.
Gazing up at the dome. | Source
The Baroque organ.
The Baroque organ. | Source
Side chapel and pulpit.
Side chapel and pulpit. | Source

3. Nerudova

If you follow the royal procession route, as many tourists do, from Charles Bridge to Prague Castle, you will find yourself walking up the cobbled street of Nerudova. The shops and restaurants along this narrow street are now aimed at the passing tourist trade. But in the past, Nerudova was home to craftsmen, artisans, and artists. The street name comes from a famous Czech poet, Jan Neruda, who lived at number 47 (At the Two Suns) 1845–1857.

House numbers were not introduced in Prague until 1770. Many houses on Nerudova Street still have the signs which distinguished them prior to this time. There's an impressive selection of heraldic beasts and emblems in these pictorial house signs. Notable amongst them 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).

Some former palaces on Nerudova are now foreign embassies. At number 5, the Morzin Palace is the Romanian Embassy. The Thun-Hohenstein Palace (number 20) houses the Italian Embassy.

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Walking up Nerudova.The view down Nerudova.
Walking up Nerudova.
Walking up Nerudova. | Source
The view down Nerudova.
The view down Nerudova. | Source

4. Wallenstein Palace

As can be seen from Nerudova, Prague Castle and Hradcany do not have the monopoly on palaces in Prague. There are plenty scattered through Mala Strana along with some picturesque gardens as well. A little off the beaten track between the Old Town and Prague Castle, but not to be missed, Wallenstein Palace was one of the first and largest Baroque palaces to be built in Prague.

The Original Owner

Wallenstein Palace owes its construction to an over-ambitious military commander, Albrecht von Wallenstein (1581–1634). Having made himself indispensable to Emperor Ferdinand II, with a string of victories in the 30 Years' War, Wallenstein, not content with the titles already bestowed upon him, began to eye up the crown of Bohemia itself. After discovering that Wallenstein was negotiating with his enemies, the Emperor had him killed.

Wallenstein Palace was built between 1624–1630. Wallenstein intended it to put Prague Palace in the shade. He bought 23 houses, three gardens and a brick kiln on a site in Mala Strana below Prague Palace. The two-floor high main hall has a ceiling fresco with Wallenstein, as Mars, the god of war, in a triumphal chariot. Having traveled in Italy Wallenstein employed many Italians to work on his ambitious palace project.

Wallenstein Palace After the Death of Its Owner

Wallenstein's widow sold the palace to his nephew. The family kept it until 1945 when it became the property of Czechoslovakia. It was used for government offices and the Senate of the Czech Republic is now based here. The palace and gardens have been renovated.

Look out for the programme of free summer concerts at Wallenstein Palace.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Wallenstein Palace Gardens.Towards the sala terrena, garden pavilion.Wallenstein Palace gardens.Garden Pavilion.Frescoes in the garden pavilion.Towards the riding school and pond.Walking towards the pond.Large ornamental pond.Statue of Hercules.Fish in the pond.The other side of the pond on a misty morning.Last look at the pond and castle before heading back to the metro.
Wallenstein Palace Gardens.
Wallenstein Palace Gardens. | Source
Towards the sala terrena, garden pavilion.
Towards the sala terrena, garden pavilion. | Source
Wallenstein Palace gardens.
Wallenstein Palace gardens. | Source
Garden Pavilion.
Garden Pavilion. | Source
Frescoes in the garden pavilion.
Frescoes in the garden pavilion. | Source
Towards the riding school and pond.
Towards the riding school and pond. | Source
Walking towards the pond.
Walking towards the pond. | Source
Large ornamental pond.
Large ornamental pond. | Source
Statue of Hercules.
Statue of Hercules. | Source
Fish in the pond.
Fish in the pond. | Source
The other side of the pond on a misty morning.
The other side of the pond on a misty morning. | Source
Last look at the pond and castle before heading back to the metro.
Last look at the pond and castle before heading back to the metro. | Source

Free Summer Concerts

We were drawn to visit Wallenstein Palace after picking up a leaflet about a series of free concerts late on Thursday afternoons over the summer months. Our time in Prague coincided with the last two of the series. We were unsure what to expect when we entered the gardens through the Letenska Street entrance. We discovered an ornate Italian formal garden, hidden from the street by a high wall. It was an oasis of calm after the tourist-filled streets of other parts of Mala Strana.

At the far end of the garden, we came upon a large ornamental pond, populated with fish and dominated by a large statue of Hercules in the center. An old Riding School stands behind the pond. Retracing our steps past the neat borders, hedges, statues, and fountains, we followed the crowd to find chairs and benches laid out in front of the sala terrena. This was the garden pavilion, once used by Wallenstein for dining, but now used by an orchestra. Spectators gathered early to hear the rehearsal before the orchestra reappeared at 5.00pm to begin the concert properly.

I would highly recommend a visit to the gardens, but if you get the opportunity to catch a concert for free, take it. The atmosphere was very relaxed and people came and went as they pleased during the performance. The easiest way to access the gardens is to take the metro to Malostranske and go in via the Valdstejnska entrance.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Prague Castle looms over Wallenstein Palace.Prague Castle from the pond in Wallenstein Palace gardens.Mala Strana skyline from within the walls of Wallenstein Palace gardens.Mala Strana beyond the Wallenstein Palace.Mala Strana on the other side of the wall.Concert rehearsal.Practise makes perfect.Concert seating.The concert.
Prague Castle looms over Wallenstein Palace.
Prague Castle looms over Wallenstein Palace. | Source
Prague Castle from the pond in Wallenstein Palace gardens.
Prague Castle from the pond in Wallenstein Palace gardens. | Source
Mala Strana skyline from within the walls of Wallenstein Palace gardens.
Mala Strana skyline from within the walls of Wallenstein Palace gardens. | Source
Mala Strana beyond the Wallenstein Palace.
Mala Strana beyond the Wallenstein Palace. | Source
Mala Strana on the other side of the wall.
Mala Strana on the other side of the wall. | Source
Concert rehearsal.
Concert rehearsal. | Source
Practise makes perfect.
Practise makes perfect. | Source
Concert seating.
Concert seating. | Source
The concert.
The concert. | Source

5. Furstenberg Garden

The terraced gardens of the Furstenberg Palace, laid out on the site of a former vineyard offer a very different experience to those of the Wallenstein Palace. We came upon them by chance on our first walk up to Prague Castle. As we headed up Stare Zamecke Schody we saw the entrance to a cafe in the wall. When we went in, we found that it was located at the top of the terraced garden, offering good views over Prague and a great location for a refreshing drink. It became a favorite refreshment stop. We never had trouble finding a free table.

Most recommend entering the terraced garden via the cafe, although on one occasion, whilst walking from Malostranska metro, we noticed an entrance at the bottom end of the gardens, where we paid the small fee to walk up the terraces. It gives an interesting perspective and there's always the rewarding prospect of a drink in the cafe at the top.

If you are looking for a quiet interlude in a hectic sightseeing schedule this might be just the place for you. The gardens are at their best in the spring. There is no access to the Furstenberg Palace, as this is now the Polish Embassy.

If you enter via the cafe and buy a drink, you can sit on the terrace, admiring views over Prague and the Furstenberg Garden without paying an admission fee.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Furstenberg Garden.Heading uphill.The view down.The higher you climb, the better the view.Towards Mala Strana.The River Vltava.Mala Strana.A view from the top.Don't forget the beer.
Furstenberg Garden.
Furstenberg Garden. | Source
Heading uphill.
Heading uphill. | Source
The view down.
The view down. | Source
The higher you climb, the better the view.
The higher you climb, the better the view. | Source
Towards Mala Strana.
Towards Mala Strana. | Source
The River Vltava.
The River Vltava. | Source
Mala Strana.
Mala Strana. | Source
A view from the top.
A view from the top. | Source
Don't forget the beer.
Don't forget the beer. | Source

6. Maltese Square

This square takes its name from the Maltese Knights, formerly known as the Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, who founded a nearby church, St. Mary below-the-chain. Little is left of the original church, apart from two Gothic towers. It was the job of the Maltese Knights to guard the Judith Bridge. The Knights used to have a priory in the area.

A statue of John the Baptist in the Maltese Square is from a fountain erected here in 1715, marking the end of a plague.

Renaissance buildings in the area were originally owned by prosperous townspeople until the 17th-18th centuries when the Catholic nobility took over. Renaissance housing became flamboyant Baroque palaces. The Nostitz Palace on the southern side of Maltese Square was built in the mid-1600s, with a balustrade added in 1720. The Ministry of Culture is now located here and summer concerts take place in the palace. The pink Rococo Turba Palace, dating from 1767, houses the Japanese embassy.

Statue of John the Baptist in the foreground. Turba Palace can be seen behind on Maltese Square.
Statue of John the Baptist in the foreground. Turba Palace can be seen behind on Maltese Square. | Source

7. John Lennon Wall

I had read about the John Lennon wall before traveling to Prague, but It was harder to find than I expected. It is located on Velkoprevorske Namesti, a little square with the garden wall of the Grand Priory of the Maltese Knights on its northern side.

Following John Lennon's death in 1980, young people in Prague paid tribute with graffiti on this site, much to the dismay of the society of Maltese Knights. The police fought a battle with the graffiti artists for over a decade, but this ad hoc shrine to the former Beatle has now been legalized.

This site was not quite the respectful location of homilies to a popular musician. The original intention of paying tribute to John Lennon was quickly taken over as a platform for young people to voice political views and discontent. Hence the communist regimes efforts to stop the practice in the early years. The political point-scoring continues to this day and I had to be careful in selecting a photo to avoid the strong language of the modern graffiti artists.

John Lennon wall.
John Lennon wall. | Source

8. Memorial to the Victims of Communism

History is all around you in Prague. Gazing at the buildings dating back hundreds of years, it is easy to forget the upheavals the city experienced after the Second World War, during the Communist era (1948–1989). We combined a visit to the observatory on Petrin Hill with a visit to the Memorial to the Victims of Communism, as it is located at the base of the hill, near the station for the funicular railway.

A series of self-portrait statues by Olbram Zoubek, a Czech sculptor was set here in 2002. The statues are in varying degrees of disintegration, representing different phases of a human figure's destruction. Starting from the bottom, the bronze statues are arranged on steps at the base of Petrin Hill. Gradually more of their bodies are missing, symbolizing the effect of imprisonment on political prisoners during the communist regime.

The figures are stark: "205,486 convicted, 248 executed, 4,500 died in prison, 327 annihilated at the border, 170,938 emigrated."

The memorial is summed up by the words on a bronze plaque: "The memorial to the victims of communism is dedicated to all victims not only those who were jailed or executed but also those whose lives were ruined by totalitarian despotism"

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Memorial to the Victims of Communism.Memorial to the Victims of Communism.
Memorial to the Victims of Communism.
Memorial to the Victims of Communism. | Source
Memorial to the Victims of Communism.
Memorial to the Victims of Communism. | Source

9. Observation Tower, Petrin Hill.

From day one of our visit to Prague, our eyes had been drawn from afar to the Eiffel Tower lookalike, all be it on a much smaller scale, on Petrin Hill. There is so much of interest to see in Prague that it was several days before we made it here.

As its appearance suggests, the Observation Tower in Petrin Park is an imitation of the larger version in Paris. It was built for the Jubilee Exhibition in 1891. At 60 meters high, the tower is only a quarter of the height of the Eiffel Tower, but its hilltop location makes up for this lack of height.

For the energetic, there is a spiral staircase of 299 steps, but there is also a lift for a slightly higher admission charge. We queued for around 30 minutes for the lift, but it was worth it for the views and to avoid the steps.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Observation Tower, Petrin Hill.Observation Tower, Petrin Hill.Observation Tower, Petrin Hill.Viewed from afar.Over the rooftops.The Observation Tower.
Observation Tower, Petrin Hill.
Observation Tower, Petrin Hill. | Source
Observation Tower, Petrin Hill.
Observation Tower, Petrin Hill. | Source
Observation Tower, Petrin Hill.
Observation Tower, Petrin Hill. | Source
Viewed from afar.
Viewed from afar. | Source
Over the rooftops.
Over the rooftops. | Source
The Observation Tower.
The Observation Tower. | Source

Getting There

We took the funicular railway up Petrin Hill from Ujezd, after we had viewed the Memorial to the Victims of Communism at the foot of Petrin Hill. There is a halfway stop at Nebozizek, where there is a restaurant with views over Prague.

The funicular railway was originally installed for the 1891 Jubilee Exhibition for visitors to the Observation Tower. Since then it has been converted from water power to electricity (between the wars) and was closed for 20 years (1965–1985) while the slope and railway were rebuilt after subsidence from earlier mining nearby caused part of the hill to collapse.

For the more energetic, there are paths through Petrin Park and up the hill. We chose to walk back down Petrin Hill, ending up at the Strahov Monastery in Hradcany for refreshments.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
View of Prague Castle.Petrin Park from the funicular railway.
View of Prague Castle.
View of Prague Castle. | Source
Petrin Park from the funicular railway.
Petrin Park from the funicular railway. | Source

Petrin Park

There are two theories about how the 318 meters high Petrin Hill acquired its name. Some think it is linked to sacrifices made on the hill to the Slavonic god Perun. Others think the Latin Mons Petrinus (rocky hill) is a more likely explanation.

Today, the area is a wooded park crisscrossed with paths, located on the western edge of Mala Strana. It is the largest area of green space in Prague and a great location to escape the crowds.

Our main focus was the Observation Tower, but in addition to this visitors to Petrin Park can see evidence of the Hunger Wall (marking the southern perimeter wall of the old city, dating from the 15th century). Stefanik's Observatory has housed telescopes since 1930 and also has an exhibition of astronomical instruments. Opening times are limited, the exhibition does not get great reviews, but a look through one of the telescopes on a clear night is worthwhile.

There is a mirror maze located in a mini neo-Gothic castle, which might interest younger visitors. This is another remnant of the Jubilee Exhibition. There is also a diorama in here, which might be of interest to older visitors, showing 'The Defence of Prague against the Swedes'.

The Baroque structure of the Church of St. Lawrence, located near the Mirror Maze, dates back to the 18th century, but it is thought that there has been a place of worship on this site since the 10th century. The church is open for concerts. The nearby Calvary Chapel dates from 1735.

Not far from the base of the Observation Tower, there is a rose garden. This was not at its best in late September, but in full bloom would have been worth seeing.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Church of St. Lawrence with the small Calvary Chapel.Rose garden in Petrin ParkMirror Maze is in the castle on the left of the picture.
Church of St. Lawrence with the small Calvary Chapel.
Church of St. Lawrence with the small Calvary Chapel. | Source
Rose garden in Petrin Park
Rose garden in Petrin Park | Source
Mirror Maze is in the castle on the left of the picture.
Mirror Maze is in the castle on the left of the picture. | Source

The Views

Our main reason for heading up Petrin Hill and the Observation Tower was to take in the views. Even on a cloudy day, we were not disappointed by the 360-degree views from the top of the tower. We were able to look over towards Prague Castle, trace the course of the River Vltava and gaze across at Prague Old Town and the New Town on the opposite bank. We could also view a stadium over the other side of Petrin Hill.

If you have time while you are in Prague, the Observation Tower is well worth a visit. Pick a clear day and get there early to avoid the queues.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Mala Strana and beyond.Mala Strana, Hradcany and Prague castle.Mala Strana and across the River Vltava.River Vltava and beyond.Prague Old Town across the River Vltava.Prague New Town.Behind Petrin HillThe 360 degree view.
Mala Strana and beyond.
Mala Strana and beyond. | Source
Mala Strana, Hradcany and Prague castle.
Mala Strana, Hradcany and Prague castle. | Source
Mala Strana and across the River Vltava.
Mala Strana and across the River Vltava. | Source
River Vltava and beyond.
River Vltava and beyond. | Source
Prague Old Town across the River Vltava.
Prague Old Town across the River Vltava. | Source
Prague New Town.
Prague New Town. | Source
Behind Petrin Hill
Behind Petrin Hill | Source
The 360 degree view.
The 360 degree view. | Source

10. Vrtba Garden

We visited Vrtba Garden towards the end of our time in Prague. Located on the lower slopes of Petrin Hill, the entrance to this terraced garden took some finding, but it felt like we had saved the best until last when we found this hidden gem. I have seen it described as "the most beautiful Baroque garden in the whole of central Europe" (Prague.CZ). Indeed it is one of the most beautiful gardens in Prague and worthy of its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

When we arrived we were unable to enter immediately as a wedding was taking place in the sala terrena, but as a result, the admission charge was reduced. Once inside, we could understand why Vrtba Garden is in demand as a wedding location. Though smaller than the garden pavilion of Wallenstein Palace, the sala terrena of Vrtba Palace is covered with ornate frescoes and decorated with statues, with its open side looking out onto the terraced garden.

The terraced garden was laid out in the early 18th century on the site of former vineyards. We headed up the balustraded terraces to the observation terrace from where we could look down on the garden below and also get a spectacular rooftop view of Prague.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Worth it for the view.Entrance to Vrtba Garden.Sala Terrana.The way up.Prague Castle.Church of Our Lady before Tyn in Prague Old Town.Church of Our Lady Victorious.Vrtba Garden.View of Mala Strana.Vrtba Garden.Vrtba Garden.Vrtba Garden.Side view of Vrtba Garden.Well kept flower beds.The lower level with Sala Terrana on the right of the picture.The lower level.Vrtba Garden.Statues on the balustrade.The way up.
Worth it for the view.
Worth it for the view. | Source
Entrance to Vrtba Garden.
Entrance to Vrtba Garden. | Source
Sala Terrana.
Sala Terrana. | Source
The way up.
The way up. | Source
Prague Castle.
Prague Castle. | Source
Church of Our Lady before Tyn in Prague Old Town.
Church of Our Lady before Tyn in Prague Old Town. | Source
Church of Our Lady Victorious.
Church of Our Lady Victorious. | Source
Vrtba Garden.
Vrtba Garden. | Source
View of Mala Strana.
View of Mala Strana. | Source
Vrtba Garden.
Vrtba Garden. | Source
Vrtba Garden.
Vrtba Garden. | Source
Vrtba Garden.
Vrtba Garden. | Source
Side view of Vrtba Garden.
Side view of Vrtba Garden. | Source
Well kept flower beds.
Well kept flower beds. | Source
The lower level with Sala Terrana on the right of the picture.
The lower level with Sala Terrana on the right of the picture. | Source
The lower level.
The lower level. | Source
Vrtba Garden.
Vrtba Garden. | Source
Statues on the balustrade.
Statues on the balustrade. | Source
The way up.
The way up. | Source

Prague's Little Quarter

A
Malostranske Namesti, Prague.:
Malostranské nám., 118 00 Malá Strana, Czechia

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B
St. Nicholas Church, Mala Strana.:
Malostranské nám., 118 00 Praha 1-Malá Strana, Czechia

get directions

C
Nerudova, Mala Strana, Prague.:
Nerudova, 118 00 Malá Strana, Czechia

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D
Wallenstein Palace:
Valdštejnské nám. 4, 118 00 Praha 1-Malá Strana, Czechia

get directions

E
Furstenberg Garden:
Fürstenberg Garden, Pražský Hrad, 119 08 Praha 1 - Malá Strana-Praha 1, Czechia

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F
Maltezske Namesti, Mala strana, Prague.:
Maltézské nám., 118 00 Malá Strana, Czechia

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G
John Lennon Wall, Prague.:
Velkopřevorské náměstí, 100 00 Praha 1, Czechia

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H
Memorial to the Victims of Communism, Prague.:
14, Újezd 420, 118 00 Malá Strana, Czechia

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I
Observation Tower, Petrin.:
Petřínské sady 633, Malá Strana, 118 00 Praha-Praha 1, Czechia

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J
Vrtba Garden, Prague.:
Vrtba Garden, Karmelitská 373/25, Malá Strana, 118 00 Praha 1, Czechia

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The Sights We Missed

I often think that the sign of a good trip is when you come towards the end and realize that there are still plenty of sights that you just did not have time to explore. So it was with our time in Prague. These are just a few of the ones we missed out on in Mala Strana.

Church of St. Thomas

There are so many churches in Prague, that it just is not possible to cover them all in one visit. The Church of St. Thomas is located on Josefska. A church has existed in this location since 1285. At one time the church had strong links with the court of King Rudolph II and it is the burial place of several members of his entourage. The church suffered fire damage and, after being struck by lightning in 1723, it was rebuilt in the Baroque style by Killian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, the architect of many churches in Prague from this period. The ceiling frescoes in the nave and the painting inside the dome are eye-catching.

The church is used for Catholic services in various languages, including English. As a result admission times are restricted.

Church of Our Lady Victorious

With much longer opening hours, the Church of Our Lady Victorious is located on Karmelitska and is visible from Vrtba Garden. As the Church of the Holy Trinity, it was the first Baroque building in Prague. It was finished in 1613 for the German Lutherans. After the Battle of the White Mountain and the persecution of non-Catholics which followed, the church was handed over to the Carmelites. They rebuilt it and renamed it in reference to the victory.

The church has played host to one of Prague's greatest religious treasures since 1628 when it was brought from Spain. The wax effigy, Holy Infant Jesus of Prague (better known as Il Bambino di Praga) is highly revered in the Catholic world with its record of miracle cures. A museum next to the church traces the history of this effigy and there is a display of its various robes, changed according to the Christian season.

Czech Music Museum

Located south of the Church of Our Lady Victorious, on Karmelitska, below Petrin Hill, this museum is housed in a former Baroque church. The National Museum is responsible for this collection of musical instruments with listening posts in the rooms. The museum also looks at popular 20th-century music, the handcrafting of instruments and the history of musical notation.

Kampa Island

The Devil's Stream (Certovka) branches off the River Vltava to form this island. This area has become known as 'the Venice of Prague'. It is the largest of Prague's river islands. Watermills were located here, of which one still remains, and it was the city's main wash-house area. The northern part of the island was developed in the 16th-17th centuries. The main square, where pottery markets were held, is cut through by Charles Bridge, which can be accessed by a flight of stairs. The south of the island is a park, where you can escape for quiet riverside walks.

Kafka Museum

This museum is located near the River Vltava, in a quieter area between Charles Bridge and Manesuv Most (the next bridge to the north). Franz Kafka, the writer of "The Trial", The Metamorphosis" and "The Castle", amongst others, was born in Prague in 1883. The museum houses mementos from the author's life, as well as exhibitions examining the backdrop to his visionary writings and how Prague was portrayed in them. The museum is also known for the 'Pissing Figures' statue in the courtyard outside. David Cerny created a pool shaped like the Czech Republic with two men urinating into it.

Vojan Park

Across two roads to the west of the Kafka Museum and hidden behind high white walls, Vojan Park is easy to miss, as we did. If you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city to the peace and quiet of an area of lawns and fruit trees, this might be the place for you. In the 17th century, this was the garden of the Convent of Barefooted Carmelites. Two chapels remain. The Chapel of Elijah, who was considered the founder of the Order, as he was associated with Mount Carmel, is a stalagmite and stalactite cave. The Chapel of St. Theresa dates from the 18th century in gratitude for the convent's survival during the Prussian siege of the city in 1757.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Church of Our Lady Victorious, Mala Strana.Kampa Island.
Church of Our Lady Victorious, Mala Strana.
Church of Our Lady Victorious, Mala Strana. | Source
Kampa Island.
Kampa Island. | Source

Favorite Sightseeing Experience

Mala Strana has something for everyone. Which would you pick on an ideal sightseeing trip?

See results

A Favorite Place to Eat

It can often be a challenge to find suitable places to eat when sightseeing in an unfamiliar city. Not because there are too few choices, but often because there are too many eating places to choose from. Sometimes it's the ones that you come upon by chance that turn out to be the best. So it was for us with Zlata Hvezda.

Having spent half a day in Prague Castle and having dismissed dining options nearby, we made our way down into Mala Strana and came upon Zlata Hvezda at the top of Nerudova. There was a reasonably priced three-course tourist menu at lunchtime and we managed to find a table outside on the terrace, with views down Nerudova. The Czech food washed down with a locally brewed lager was so good that we returned for lunch again.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Zlata Hvezda.The terrace view.The view from our table.
Zlata Hvezda.
Zlata Hvezda. | Source
The terrace view.
The terrace view. | Source
The view from our table.
The view from our table. | Source

Final Thoughts

It would have been easy to miss out on many sights in Mala Strana, while just using it as a thoroughfare between Charles Bridge and Prague Castle. I am grateful that we had time to explore the Little Quarter. Around every corner, it seemed that there was a point of interest to discover in this area, so well preserved and steeped in history. I hope that this article has drawn your attention to some of the sights worth seeing and that one day you will be able to visit Mala Strana yourself.

View of Mala Strana from Vrtba Garden.
View of Mala Strana from Vrtba Garden. | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Liz Westwood

    Comments

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      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        3 days ago from UK

        Thank you for your comment, Denise. Prague has much more to offer than just a weekend destination. It seemed that around every corner we stumbled upon something of interest.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile image

        Denise McGill 

        6 days ago from Fresno CA

        This is one more place on my bucket list to see someday. I hope I can make it. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        11 days ago from UK

        Thank you for your comment, Peggy. That's a good idea. I will try to remember that and add it when I review this article.

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        11 days ago from Houston, Texas

        Thanks for sharing all of this lovely information about what there is to do and see in this area. In your poll if you had offered an "all of the above," that is what I would have chosen. When visiting a new area, I like to get a flavor of everything.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        8 months ago from UK

        Thank you for your comment, Eman. I hope this article conveys a little of our experiences visiting this interesting area of Prague.

      • Emmy ali profile image

        Eman Abdallah Kamel 

        9 months ago from Egypt

        A very informative and interesting article as well.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        9 months ago from UK

        Thanks for your comment, Brandy. Prague is so well-preserved that I don't think much will have changed in the historical central areas since your trip. I hope my articles bring back good memories of your time there and that you will return to Prague.

      • Robert Sacchi profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        9 months ago

        I am glad you are sharing your experiences there.

      • BrandyMcNelson profile image

        Brandy McGhee Nelson 

        9 months ago from Arkansas

        I visited Prague back in 2006 and I would love to go back. Your pictures are beautiful, great hub!

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        9 months ago from UK

        Thank you for your comment, Robert. Prague is a stunning city. I was amazed at how much there was to see and learn from the sights we visited. It has proved to be a city rich in articles for me.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        9 months ago from UK

        Thanks for your comment, Peg. Prague is a capital city rich in history. Before we went there I wondered if there would be enough for us to do on an extended visit. In fact we could have stayed there longer.

      • Robert Sacchi profile image

        Robert Sacchi 

        9 months ago

        Another great article about this fascinating city. I would never had known how fascinating this city is if it wasn't for your articles. Thank you.

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 

        9 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

        Such stunning sights and rich history and you've given the reader the insider's view. Your photos are spectacular.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        9 months ago from UK

        Thank you for your comment, RTalloni. Prague is one of the most picturesque cities I have visited. It came highly recommended by a much wider travelled relative than myself and the city exceeded expectations.

      • profile image

        RTalloni 

        9 months ago

        1257...such a long history and you've hit so many highlights to peak interest. Photos are really nice. So glad you included Olbram Zoubek work reflecting the picture of communism...thought provoking! As usual, you make me want to pack my bags, but you've also made me want to paint a mural. Thoroughly enjoyed what you shared of your visit here. Nicely done.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        9 months ago from UK

        Thanks for your comment, Linda. I hope you can visit Prague one day. I was surprised how much there was to see there and how well-preserved it was.

      • lindacee profile image

        Linda Chechar 

        9 months ago from Arizona

        Hopefully one day I'll make a trip to Prague. There are so many destinations to visit. The historic architecture is beautiful. It is a city seems frozen in time.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        9 months ago from UK

        Thank you very much for your encouraging comment, Pamela. I would thoroughly recommend a trip to Prague. The city survived the Second World War reasonably unscathed and Mala Strana especially has changed little over the years.

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        9 months ago from Sunny Florida

        Liz, I cannot imagine a better trip than the one to Prague, with beautiful scenery and architecture from the 1700s. This truly looks like a dream vacation as there was so much to see. Your pictures are fabulous, and I loved everything about this article.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        9 months ago from UK

        Thanks for your comment, Kimberley. We often seem drawn to visit churches too. In the UK, we often find out a lot about a village from the local church. Sadly many traditional churches suffer from declining congregations and the buildings are museums rather than places of worship. I went with a friend today to the church in our village. It was lovely to see a congregation of all ages fuctioning as a hub of the community.

      • Kimberly Martis profile image

        Kimberly Martis 

        9 months ago

        Hi Liz! Prague is on my list of places to visit so I loved reading your article. Churches are always a must see whenever I visit a new place so I was happy to see you incorporated them.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        9 months ago from UK

        Thanks for commenting, FlourishAnyway. I had not heard of the term 'defenestration' until we visited Prague. There were a few incidents. The first I noticed was in 1419, when a crowd of demonstrators broke into the New Town Hall in Prague New Town and threw Catholic councillors out of the window for not releasing some prisoners.

        The one I refer to in this article took place in 1618. Count Thum led over 100 Protestant nobles to the Old Royal Palace in protest at Ferdinand taking the throne. They confronted two Catholic Governors and threw them out of the window along with their secretary. A dung heap softened their fall and they survived.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        9 months ago from USA

        Prague looks like a thoroughly enjoyable place to visit, and I really liked all that you profiled here. Your photos were excellent. I'd love to have the liberty to just explore a city at depth like you have. The memorial to communism was especially touching. And those folks planning to toss out the church councilors (literally) was a little surprising, too. People can be pretty brutal wherever you go. The more you learn about history the more you learn that's a common theme.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        9 months ago from UK

        Thank you for your comment, Alicia. There is so much to see in Prague that I still have material for more articles. Before I went, others had spoken highly of Prague. I was pleased to discover that the city exceeded my expectations.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        9 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        This is such an interesting and informative article, Liz. Your Prague articles are an excellent resource for someone visiting the city.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        9 months ago from UK

        Thanks for your comment, Bill. It always amazes me when I go into cathedrals that are hundreds of years old. I wonder how they managed to create such ornate buildings at such heights without modern machinery and safety precautions. Prague is a well-preserved city.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        9 months ago from Olympia, WA

        I can't wrap my brain around such architecture. Some of those buildings took over 100 years to build....that just doesn't compute in this hurry up world where housing developments rise from the dust in a matter of months.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        9 months ago from UK

        Thanks for your comment, Bill. Prague is a very photogenic city. I would highly recommend it. It was a little strange for us to revert to using another currency, as much of our travel is within the Eurozone these days. It took a while for me to familiarize myself with the Czech currency. Yet I remember family holidays with a camper van in the 70s and 80s, when my parents had envelopes containing different currencies in a safe, as we toured round Europe.

      • bdegiulio profile image

        Bill De Giulio 

        9 months ago from Massachusetts

        Have not yet been to Prague, but it is certainly on our list. Great hub with lots of useful info that will come in handy when we do get there. Wonderful photos also.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        9 months ago from UK

        Thanks for your comment, John. It soon became clear to me that there was so much to see in Prague that the only way to attempt to do it justice would be to write area by area. It is one of the most unspoilt European cities. I hope you can visit Prague sometime.

      • Eurofile profile imageAUTHOR

        Liz Westwood 

        9 months ago from UK

        Thank you for your comment, Lorna. Prague came highly recommended by others who had visited before us. I wondered if it would live up to the hype. But it exceeded our expectations.

      • John Welford profile image

        John Welford 

        9 months ago from Barlestone, Leicestershire

        That is a very full guide to the area. I have never been to Prague, but would certainly like to one day.

      • Lorna Lamon profile image

        Lorna Lamon 

        9 months ago

        This is a great article packed with lots of interesting historical facts and wonderful photos - definitely worth a visit.

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