Malá Strana, now known as the “Little Quarter”, was originally called the New Town, long before Charles IV moved that name across the river. Floods, fires and war kept construction going on the Vltava’s left bank; very few of the original Romanesque and Gothic buildings remain. During the reign of the Habsburgs, grand palaces were built in Baroque style, and today many of these serve as parliament or government buildings and embassies. The area is an enclave of parks, cafés, winding streets and unassuming churches.

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1. Charles Bridge

For almost all visitors to Prague, this spectacular Gothic bridge (see CHARLES BRIDGE), crossing the Vltava from the Old Town to the castle complex, remains their most memorable image of the city long after they have returned home.

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Malá Strana tower, Charles Bridge

2. Petřín Hill

A more than welcome respite from the tiny, generally crowded streets in the city below is this sprawling park looking down over spires and rooftops. Enjoy the views all the way up the hill by taking the funicular (see Petřín Hill).

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A scenic view of the Vltava and Charles Bridge, as seen from Petřín Hill

3. Nerudova

The 19th-century Czech writer and poet Jan Neruda (1834–91) lived in the House of the Two Suns, at the top of the street that now bears his name. Lined with former palaces, Nerudova street leads uphill from Malostranské náměstí, its many winding side streets leading visitors up to Prague Castle. Traditionally an artists’ quarter, the street is worth exploring for its many craft shops and galleries. It is also home to one of the most concentrated collections of historic house signs in the city.

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The Golden Horseshoe, Nerudova 34

4. John Lennon Wall

prac_info Velkopřevorské náměstí

Prague hippies and the secret police once waged a long-running paint battle here, as the latter constantly tried to eradicate the graffiti artists’ work (see John Lennon Wall). The original artwork, created by students after Lennon’s assassination, has been painted over many times, but the John Lennon Peace Club still gathers annually at this self-made shrine to sing the former Beatle’s praises – and his songs.

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Artwork on the John Lennon Wall

5. Malostranské náměstí

The hectic traffic that now detracts from the beauty of Malá Strana’s main square seems historically fitting – in the past it has been witness to innumerable destructive fires, revolutions and executions (during the days when a gallows stood here). St Nicholas Church and the adjoining Jesuit college dominate the centre of the square, while lovely Neo-Classical palace arcades and restaurants line the perimeter. One of the most important buildings is the Sněmovna, home to the lower house of the Czech parliament, the Chamber of Deputies.

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Trams at Malostranské náměstí

6. St Nicholas Church

prac_info Malostranské náměstí • Open Mar–Oct: 9am–5pm daily; Nov–Feb: 9am–4pm daily • Adm • www.stnicholas.cz

Jesuits constructed this stunning example of Baroque architecture in the early 18th century. This prominent Prague landmark was designed by the acclaimed father and son Baroque architects, Christoph and Kilian Dientzenhofer, while other leading artists adorned the interior with exquisite carvings, statues and frescoes. From the 1950s the clock tower often served as an observation and spying point for the state security (Communist police).

7. Maltézské náměstí

The Knights of Malta once had an autonomous settlement here, and the square still bears their name. The area is dominated by beautiful Baroque palaces, and the 12th- century Church of Our Lady below the Chain, whose name refers to the chain used in the Middle Ages to close the monastery gatehouse.

8. Kampa Island

The tiny Čertovka (Devil’s Canal) that separates Kampa from Malá Strana was once the town’s “laundry”, milling area and, in the 17th century, home to a thriving pottery industry. A popular park now covers the island’s (see Kampa Island) southern end, while the northern half is home to elegant embassies, restaurants and hotels. Much of the island was submerged during the 2002 flooding and many buildings had to be repaired.

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Kampa Island and the Čertovka canal

9. Church of Our Lady Victorious

prac_info Karmelitská 9 • Open 8:30am–7pm Mon–Sat (to 8pm Sun) • Museum of the Prague Infant Jesus: 9:30am–5:30pm Mon–Sat, 1–6pm Sun

Also known as the Church of the Infant Jesus of Prague, Prague’s first Baroque church (1611) got its name – and its Catholic outlook – after the Battle of White Mountain. Visitors stream in to see the church’s miracle-working statue of the Christ Child (see Church of our Lady Victorious).

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Church of Our Lady Victorious

10. Vojanovy sady

prac_info U lužického semináře

Malá Strana has many green pockets, but Vojan’s gardens top them all for their romantic charm. Tulip beds, flowering fruit trees and the occasional peacock add to the fairy-tale atmosphere (see Vojanovy sady).

THE HEDONISTS’ QUARTER

The district of Malá Strana became something of a party town for the Viennese nobility during the 18th century. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart strayed from the straight and narrow here, as did Casanova – in his sunset years, the ageing playboy penned his memoirs at the palace that is now home to the British Embassy. The trend continues today, with Prague’s youth gathering in the little squares to play music, smoke and drink.

A DAY IN MALÁ STRANA

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MORNING

You can approach the Little Quarter from the Old Town as royal processions once did, by crossing Charles Bridge, or you can save your energy for the day ahead, and start from the top of the hill and walk down. Get to Nerudova from one of the many side streets leading from Hradčany and stroll down, window shopping at the many craft outlets on your way. Don’t worry if you stray off the beaten path; as long as you go downhill, you’ll end up at the area’s central hub, Malostranské náměstí. Here, spend at least an hour savouring one of the city’s most spectacular buildings, St Nicholas Church. Pause for lunch at one of the many pleasant cafés on Malostranské náměstí.

AFTERNOON

After lunch, take Tomášská to the Wallenstein Garden (see House Signs). Tiptoe through the tulips at Vojanovy sady and continue down U lužického semináře, pausing for a cup of coffee at Čertovka. Continue under Charles Bridge and onto the lovely Kampa Island. Explore the island, then head off to check the writing on the John Lennon Wall before visiting the Church of Our Lady Victorious.

In the evening, catch a recital at St Nicholas Church, or head over to U Malého Glena to relax while listening to jazz and blues.

Palaces

1. Nostitz Palace

prac_info Maltézské náměstí 1

Take in the restoration work at this 17th-century palace while enjoying a chamber music concert. The palace now serves as the seat of the Czech Ministry of Culture.

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Façade of the Nostitz Palace

2. Thun-Hohenstein Palace

prac_info Nerudova 20

The Kolowrat family’s heraldic eagles support the portal of this palace. Built by Giovanni Santini-Aichel in 1721, the building is now home to the Italian Embassy.

3. Liechtenstein Palace

prac_info Malostranské náměstí 13 • www.amu.cz

Originally several different houses, the Liechtenstein Palace fused in the 16th century. Today, it is home to Prague’s Academy of Music and numerous concerts and recitals.

4. Morzin Palace

prac_info Nerudova 5

The two giant Moors (hence Morzin) bearing up the Romanian Embassy’s façade are said to wander about Malá Strana streets at night.

5. Wallenstein Palace

prac_info Valdštejnské náměstí 4 • Open 10am–5pm Sat & Sun • Adm • www.senat.cz

General Wallenstein pulled out all the stops creating what is essentially a monument to himself. On the palace’s frescoes, the Thirty Years’ War commander had himself depicted as both Achilles and Mars.

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Wallenstein Palace ceiling frescoes

6. Buquoy Palace

prac_info Velkopřevorské náměstí 2

This pink stucco palace and the John Lennon Wall are separated by only a few steps, but they are miles apart aesthetically. The French Ambassador helped preserve the graffiti opposite his offices in the 1980s.

7. Michna Palace

prac_info Újezd 40

Francesco Caratti modelled this palace on Versailles in the 17th century. It is home to the Sokol Physical Culture Movement.

8. Schoenborn Palace

prac_info Tržiště 15

Count Colloredo-Mansfeld owned the palace in the 17th century: having lost a leg in the Thirty Years’ War, he had the stairs rebuilt so he could ride his horse into the building. Czechoslovakia’s first ambassador to the United States sold the palace to the US government in 1925.

9. Lobkowicz Palace (Převorovských)

prac_info Vlašská 19

Home to the German Embassy. In 1989 hundreds of East Germans found their way to the West by scrambling over the back fence of this embassy building.

10. Kaunitz Palace

prac_info Mostecká 15

The Yugoslav (now Serbian) Embassy sat quietly in its pink and yellow stucco palace for more than 300 years until war made it a popular spot for protests.

Shops

1. Beer Shop Galerie Piva

prac_info Lázeňská 15

A large variety of bottled beers from around the country, mostly from independent producers, are sold at this store. The knowledgeable staff will helpfully guide you through the offerings available.

2. Knihkupectví Shakespear a synové

prac_info U lužického semináře 10

This bookstore specializes in foreign books and has a vast number of titles in English, German and French. It offers a space for literary readings and discussions.

3. Elima

prac_info Jánský vršek 5

Buried in the backstreets of Malá Strana, this small, attractive shop sells wonderful handmade Polish pottery from the Boleslawiec area for very reasonable prices.

4. Obchod vším možným

prac_info Nerudova 45

Just under New Castle Steps, at the end of Nerudova street, this small shop sells original Czech puppets, gifts, toys, ceramics, jewellery, art and enamel tableware.

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Exterior of Obchod vším možným

5. Galeria Kotrba

prac_info Maltézské náměstí 3

Set right in the middle of Maltese Square is this small shop filled with lovely old paintings, maps and engravings of Prague.

6. Květinářstvi u Červéneho lva

prac_info Saská

It appears as if a jungle is sprouting from the hole in the wall that is the Flowershop at the Red Lion. Spruce up your apartment or hotel room with their unique arrangements.

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Květinářstvi u Červéneho lva

7. Pragtique

prac_info Mostecká 20

This stylish shop promotes original and traditional Czech crafts and artisans. You can find a good range of unique gifts and souvenirs thematically inspired from Prague. The collection combines the nostalgia and charm of the old world with the vibrancy of the present metropolis.

8. Malostranské starožitnictví

prac_info Malostranské náměstí 28

This antiques store is a veritable treasure trove of jewellery, watches, porcelain objects, silverware, coins and photographs. It also sells larger items, such as musical instruments.

9. Designum Gallery

prac_info Nerudova 27

This design boutique offers the works of up-and-coming artists apart from the established brands and designers. The highlights at the boutique include glass, porcelain as well as contemporary jewellery.

10. Vetešnictví

prac_info Vítězná 16

A favourite junk shop, where you can find everything from silver teaspoons to glass and door handles.

Cafés and Pubs

1. Bohemia Bagel

prac_info Lázeňská 19

It’s hard to believe now, but Prague had no bagels until an American entrepreneur opened this shop here in 1997, serving fresh-baked bagels, sandwiches and endless cups of coffee. Open until 7pm. The same people run the jazz club U Malého Glena.

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Snacks at Bohemia Bagel

2. Café Kafíčko

prac_info Maltézské náměstí 15

This lovely café, with its excellent coffee and homemade cakes, proves to be the perfect getaway from the cold of the winter or the summer crowds.

3. Baráčnická rychta

prac_info Tržiště 23

This wood-panelled beer hall, housed in a Modernist 1930s building, is a little piece of traditional Czech Republic in Malá Strana.

4. Restaurant and Beer Parlor Čertovka

prac_info U lužického semináře 24

The stairway leading to this café’s riverside patio is so narrow it needs its own traffic lights. They say President Václav Havel took Pink Floyd here for beer.

5. Alebrijes Bar Bar

prac_info Všehrdova 17

Come to this cosy restaurant and bar for a relaxed meal with friends and family, and enjoy traditional Mexican drinks and cuisine.

6. U Kocoura

prac_info Nerudova 2

You might think the regulars at this pub on Malá Strana’s main drag would be used to tourists by now, but don’t be surprised if every face turns to meet you. Serves excellent Pilsner.

7. Café Lounge

prac_info Plaská 615/8

Admire the beautiful interiors and courtyard of this café. Every week there are different coffee and wine specials. Don’t miss the superb, imaginative desserts.

8. Café Bella Vida

prac_info Malostranské nábřezí 3

This café serves its own coffee blend as well as delectable mini-desserts and sandwiches.

9. U Malého Glena

prac_info Karmelitská 23 • www.malyglen.cz

Prague’s smallest jazz venue, Malého Glena, also has a cosy café where you can enjoy a variety of food and brunch at weekends.

10. John Lennon Pub

prac_info Hroznová 6

This pub is all about celebrating the legendary singer. Enjoy steaks and burgers in the garden.

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Interior of the John Lennon Pub

Restaurants

1. Cantina

prac_info Újezd 38 • 257 317173 • TT

The best Mexican food in Prague. The fajitas are great; try the chicken and banana variety. Book ahead.

2. Pálffy Palác

prac_info Valdštejnská 14 • 257 530522 • TT

This fine dining establishment (see Pálffy Palác) with a great view of the castle terraces seems to revel in its somewhat shabby splendour.

3. Malostranská Beseda

prac_info Malostranské námĕstí 21 • 257 409112 • TT

Set in an elegant building in the heart of Little Quarter, this cosy and buzzing place serves traditional Czech food and beer.

4. U Patrona

prac_info Dražického náměstí 4 • 257 530725 • TT

The Continental and Czech cuisine will please gourmets; the balcony overlooking Charles Bridge will delight romantics.

5. Ichnusa Botega Bistro

prac_info Plaská 5 • 605 375012 • TT

An inviting and family-run bistro which offers a delicious range of Sardinian dishes paired with drinks.

6. Kampa Park

prac_info Na Kampě 8b • 257 532685 • TT

This top riverside restaurant (see Kampa Park) has three terraces and a winter garden. It serves a mix of Continental classics and fusion cuisine.

7. Terasa U Zlaté studně

prac_info U Zlaté studně 4 • 257 533322 • TT|

With its picturesque views, elegant decor and classic cuisine, this fine dining restaurant (see Terasa U Zlaté studně) offers the perfect setting to celebrate special occasions with friends and family.

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Façade of Terasa U Zlaté studně

8. Coda Restaurant

prac_info Tržiště 9 • 225 334761 • TT

Enjoy the stunning views from the rooftop terrace while you sample the delicious Czech dishes from the tasting menu.

9. Malostranská pivnice

prac_info Cihelná 3 • 257 530032 • TT

Old pub-style restaurant with traditional Czech fare and excellent Pilsner beer.

10. Café Savoy

prac_info Vítĕzná 5 • 731 136144 • TT

This feels just like a Prague café should, with high ceilings, elegant fixtures and huge windows. It has a standard as well as gourmet menu.

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Appetizers at Café Savoy

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