PRAGUE LESSER TOWN
The Lesser Town was founded in 1257 on the slopes bellow the Prague castle and it is the part of Prague least affected by resent history.
Nerudova Street (Nerudova ulice)
Named after the poet and journalist Jan Neruda, who lived at No 47 in the House of Two Suns, it is the picturesque narrow street that leads up to Prague castle as a part of Royal Way. There is a splendid selection of heraldic beasts and emblems on the houses, for example the Red Eagle, the Three Fiddles, the Golden Horseshoe, the Green lobster and the White Swan.
There are also a number of grand Baroque buildings, such as the Thun-Hohenstain Palace, the Morzin Palace, the Church of Our Lady of Unceasing Succour.
Started as a market place it has always been the centre of life in the Lesser Town. Today, there are official buildings and restaurants. The important buildings include the St Nicholas Church, the Town Hall, the Sternberg Palace, the Smiřický Palace. On the facade of the Baroque Kaiserstain Palace there is a bust of the great Czech soprano Emma Destinn who lived there between 1908 and 1914.
St Nicholas Church (Kostel sv. Mikuláše)
It is the dominant of the Lesser Town Square and one of central Europe's finest baroque buildings begun by Kristof Dientzenhofer, continued by his son Kilian and finished by Anselmo Lurago. The statues, fresçoes and paintings inside the church are by leading artists of the day, such as Karel Škréta and Johann Kracker.
Wallenstein Palace (Valdštejnský palác)
Built between 1624 and 1630 by Albrecht von Wallenstein, generalisimo of the Habsburg armies, it was meant to overshadow even the Prague Castle. It is so large that 23 houses, three gardens and the municipal brick kiln had to be razed to make way for the palace and its grounds. There are also splendid gardens laid out as they were in those days. Now it houses the Senate of the Czech Republic.
Church of st Thomas (Kostel sv. Tomáše)
This original Gothic church was founded for the Order of Augustinian Hermits by Wenceslas II in 1285 and completed in 1379, along with an Augustinian Monastery and St Thomas' Brewery. In the richly decorated interior are paintings and statues by Czech artists including Karel Škréta and Václav Vavřinec Reiner.
Vrtba Garden (Vrtbovská zahrada)
This beautiful Baroque garden was designed by František Maxmilián Kaňka in about 1720. Statues and vases are by Mathias Brown. There is a good view of Prague Castle and the Lesser Town from the terrace
Church of Our Lady Victorious (Chrám Panny Marie Vítězné)
Originally a Carmelite church this Early Baroque church was built on the site of an earlier protestant Hussite Church after the Battle of White Mountain in 1620. Inside, there is the miraculous Infant Child of Prague, one of the most revered images in the Catholic world, dating from the year 1628.
Maltese Square (Maltézské náměstí)
It was named after the Knights of Malta who in 1169 established a monastery that used to stay beside the Church of Our Lady Below the Chain. The largest building, Nostitz Palace, is home to the Dutch embassy and in summer there are concerts given at the palace. Opposit the French embassy there is the John Lennon Wall that used to be a kind of political focus before 1989.
Kampa Island (Kampa)
Known as the Venice of Prague, Kampa Island has been formed by a branch of the Vltava called the Devil's Stream (Čertovka). Originally there were only gardens on the island but it was also used for washing clothes and bleaching linen. In the 17th century the island became well known for its pottery markets. Today it is an elegant part of Prague with a village-like character.
Named after the Emperor Charles IV in 19th century the Charles Bridge is Prague's most familiar monument. Designed by Petr Parler, it was completed in 1400 and it connects the Lesser Town with the Old Town. Although it is now pedestrianised, it withstood wheeled traffic for 600 years. There are thirty statues on the bridge, many of them have been replaced with copies. Originals are kept in the Lapidarium of the National Museum and at Vyšehrad. The magnificent Gothic Old Town Bridge Tower was designed by Petr Parler and built at the end of the 14th century. It is considered the finest Gothic tower in central Europe, mainly for its decoration. There are marvellous views of the Vltava river Valley, the Žofín, Střelecký Island, the Old Town and the Lesser Town.
Vojan Park (Vojanovy sady)
One of the oldest parks in Prague, Vojan Park, was founded around the year of 1300. It was devastated in 1420 but in 17th century it was the garden of the Convent of Barefooted Carmelites. There are two chapels – the Chapel of Elijah and a chapel dedicated to St Theresa. By the entrance to the park there is an 18th-century statue of St John Nepomuk by Ignaz Platzer.
Petřín Hill (Petřín)
With a height of 318 m the Petřín Hill is a network of eight parks offering magnificent panoramas of Prague. Most of the vineyards from the 12th century were transformed into gardens and orchards by the 18th century and today it is a great place for quiet walks easily accessible from Hradčany and Strahov or by funicular railway from Újezd. Up the hill there is the Štefánik Observatory, the 60m high Observation Tower – an imitation of the Eifel Tower, the Hunger Wall that was built by the poor of the city in return for food in the 14th century, the Mirror Maze, the Church of St Lawrence and the wooden Church of St Michael.