Hugging the meanders of the Vltava River and nestled in the shadow of the great gothic rises of Prague Castle, the Malá Strana, or Little Quarter, is unquestionably one of the most enchanting and alluring in the capital of the Czech Republic. Alive with hidden streets and cobblestone squares, ancient churches and unforgettable sights, the area is bursting with interesting activities and worthy cultural pursuits. Here are Culture Trip’s highlights.
There are oodles of churches in Prague, but perhaps none as fascinating as this baroque-styled piece in Malá Strana. St. Nicholas Church’s iconic green dome and bell tower has long been part of Prague’s historic skyline. The famous composers Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart both had concerts at this Church. Located between the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle, this spot allows visitors to soak up the atmosphere without hordes of other tourists. Make sure to climb to the top of the bell tower on a clear day, and see the unforgettable panoramic view of Prague spread out into the distance.
The Petrin Tower is a tower on the outskirts of the Malá Strana area. Similar to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, this landmark is a favorite with tourists. The views are pretty amazing at all times of the year but are particularly spectacular during fall, when the changing colors of the surrounding forests illuminate the city’s various districts. The tower has a whopping 299 steps, and this doesn’t include those found on the hike up the hill beforehand—perhaps not an excursion for the faint-hearted.
For travellers in need of an escape from the city in one of the quieter corners of Malá Strana, the peaceful Wallenstein Garden is perhaps the best place to head. These hidden gardens surround the Wallenstein palace, the home of the Czech Republic Senate. The garden, constructed in the 17th century, houses hundreds of unique sculptures, fountains and even some magnificent peacocks, who wander around aimlessly at their pleasure.
The KGB Museum has whole rooms of exhibitions, all chronicling the times when the Czech Republic was under the yoke of communism. Interesting pieces include the death mask of Lenin, the Trotsky murder weapon, and equipment from KGB laboratories. The highlight of the museum is the photo gallery, which consists of photos of Prague taken by a KGB officer. The tour takes approximately 1.5 hours and is arguably the finest introduction to this dark period in the nation’s history.
Another great park located in the Malá Strana, Kampa Park edges up to the banks of the Vltava River and is a perfect paradise away from the hustling, bustling streets of Prague central. On the weekends, various food and farmers’ markets pop up here, so be sure not to miss those. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this park though is the Crawling Babies exhibit, created by artist David Černý and now famous right across the globe.
When looking to do a spot of shopping in Malá Strana, Mostecka Street is the place to go. It is the main street in the neighborhood and hosts a whole host of boutiques and emporiums. The shops are all run by citizens of Prague and the products differ store-to-store. There is one shop that sells elegant glassware and has a great collection of crystal glasses, vases, and sculptures; another shop sells fragrant candles, and another touts body lotions—all perfect choices for souvenirs.
There are plenty of bars and pubs in Prague, but none quite like the Blue Light Bar. This jazz bar is funky, lively and any patron is destined for a good time. The décor is completely unique, with graffiti-covered walls and oodles of antiques, while the music is great for dancing. The place is packed most nights of the week and it’s open late for any night owls. What’s more, the drinks are delicious and reasonably priced.