Mala Strana and Prague Castle

MALA STRANA AND PRAGUE CASTLE AREA

Mala Strana and the Castle area is Hidden Places hotels´ home.

MALA STRANA

Mala Strana

Mala Strana (the Lesser Town or Little Quarter) clusters around the foothills of Prague Castle, on the opposite side of the river to the Old Town.

Almost too picturesque for its own good - with its ancient burgher houses, quaint side streets and St. Nicholas Church - Mala Strana is a favourite setting for films and commercials.

At the heart of Mala Strana is a baroque square, Malostranske Namesti. Here, and all around in the cobblestone side streets, there is plenty to explore in the small boutique shops, churches, traditional Czech pubs and restaurants, some located in ancient cellars, others offering fine views of the river.

Mala Strana started life in the 8th century as a market settlement. In 1257 Premysl Otakar II granted it town status and in 1360-1362 fortifications were built by order of Charles IV. This has been known for centuries as the Hunger Wall, built, it is believed, to give employment to the poor during a period of famine.

Mala Strana was almost destroyed twice: first during a battle between the Hussites and the Prague Castle garrison in 1419, and then in the Great Fire of Prague in 1514. Renaissance buildings and palaces replaced the destroyed houses.

The baroque churches and palaces that give Mala Strana its charm date from the 17th and 18th centuries.

PRAGUE CASTLE

Prague Castle

Prague Castle is the largest medieval castle complex in Europe and the ancient seat of Czech kings throughout the ages. It is Prague's premier tourist attraction.

Several destructive wars and fires (and the subsequent renovations), along with differing political forces have combined to create an intriguing mix of palaces, churches and fortifications.

The Prague Castle complex consists of Saint Vitus Cathedral (the most recognisable landmark in the city), viewing towers, museums and art galleries, a monastery, Golden Lane, several palaces, including Lobkowicz Palace, and St. George's Basilica; the latter being a popular venue for early evening classical concerts.

The first known building on the site of Prague Castle was erected in the 9th century. In the 12th century it was replaced by a Romanesque palace. In the 14th century it was rebuilt in the Gothic style, under the reign of Charles IV.

Following a fire in 1541, Prague Castle underwent further works. The Spanish Hall was added during the reign of Rudolf II. And final alterations were made by Empress Maria Theresa, under the direction of the celebrated architect M. Pacassi.

After World War I, renovations to the castle buildings and to the Prague Castle Gardens were undertaken by the architect J. Plecnik.

Today, Prague Castle is the seat of the President of the Czech Republic and serves as the historical and political centre for both city and state.


Read more in The Free Prague Guide.