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Malá Strana (the Lesser Town or Little Quarter) clusters around the foothills of Prague Castle and is such a quant and picturesque setting that it can barely stand up to the traffic that it draws. On the opposite side of the river to the Old Town it's ancient burgher houses, quaint side streets and the St. Nicolas Church are a favorite setting for international films and commercials. Malastranske Namesti lies at the heart of the Lesser Quarter, and in and around this delightful baroque square visitors will find plenty to explore in the form of boutique shops, churches, traditional Czech pubs and a variety of restaurants. First created in the 8th to 9th century as a market settlement the Lesser Quarter was granted town status in 1257 by Premysl Otakar the 2nd, and fortifications were erected between 1360 to 1362 on the orders of Charles IV. This has been known for centuries as the Hunger Wall, built, it is believed, with the aim of giving 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, and many of the baroque churches and palaces that give Mala Strana its charm date from the 17th and 18th centuries. Few tourists to Prague fail to visit the Lesser Quarter which is much as it was described in the works of writer Jan Neruda over one-hundred years ago.

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