Mala Strana, or the Little Quarter, lies across the
from the centre of the city. Most visitors come to it across the historic Vltava River from the city centre. However I discovered that it can also be approached through the large and lovely Charles Bridge and this second route rapidly became my favourite. Letenske Park
It takes you through the park, with its wonderful views over the centre of
Prague and past the Belvedere, the beautiful Renaissance Summer Palace, into the Royal Garden and towards to . Walking in the shade of magnificent specimen trees, with views of the castle dominated by the towers of Saint Vitus’ cathedral, was something I never tired of. Prague Castle
It’s also possible to walk down the steep and beautiful Nerudova Street, famed for the historic emblems on its house-fronts, which were used to identify individual buildings before the introduction of numbering in 1770.
Once at the bottom of the hill the Little Quarter just begs to be wandered around, almost at random. Its mixture of streets and squares of mostly C18th buildings, interspersed with glorious Gothic and Baroque churches and towers, is made to be explored on foot and alone, so that you can linger at will.
One of the many things I love about
, in Mala Strana and elsewhere, are the little side streets, alleys almost, which tempt you to leave your planned route and explore. On one such side street I found a reminder of the fact that for nearly 400 years Bohemia and its capital Prague were part of the Hapsburg Empire and the official language of government and education was German, not Czech. Prague
Today Mala Strana, with its fine town houses and mansions, is a favoured location for embassies and other institutions. It is haunted by tourists, who are bowled over by its history and beauty, but also keeps its quiet places, where you can feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the main streets. It is a quarter with personality and deep charm – living proof, if any were needed, that size bears little relation to importance and worth. Mala Strana - small is indeed beautiful.