THE LESSER TOWN

The settlement of Malá Strana, also known as the Lesser Town, was a natural consequence of the fact that the princely mansion was located in a strategic place of today’s Prague Castle. Logically, the place below the hill was soon filled with markets and later with settlements. The significant impulse to the development of the Lesser Town bank of the river came during the reign of King Vladislav II. under whose reign the important Judith Bridge was built. The Czech king, Přemysl Otakar II., also contributed to the history of the Lesser Town when he gave the Lesser Town the City status in 1257. It was then that the ground plan of Lesser Town was changed into what you see today with the Lesser Town Square in the middle. Přemysl Otakar II. also significantly affected the structure of the population. By the favourable tax conditions, he attracted colonists, merchants and craftsmen from northern Germany. These new incomers slightly pushed out the original citizens into the surrounding villages. Nevertheless, the Lesser Town remained a rather poor agglomeration. King Charles IV made the area of Lesser Town bigger and he also had the walls built. The real tragedy in the history of the Lesser Town was the devastating fire in 1541, which even damaged the Prague Castle. The Lesser Town was rescued by the arrival of Emperor Rudolf II. to Prague in 1583 because courtiers and court aristocracy moved to Prague with him. It was a time when famous Italian architects (Ulrico Aostali, Giuseppe Filippi, Anselmo Lurago, and Domenico Orsi) came to design both the spiritual and the secular in Prague. The Lesser Town became a representative district where the richest nobles had their, mostly Baroque, palaces built. That is why today’s Lesser Town is a diplomatic district with foreign embassies and important state institutions such as, the Czech House of Deputies and the Senate.

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