Malostranské Square (Malostranské náměstí), together with Hradčanské Square, is the best preserved historical open space in Prague. Its generously conceived regular plan dates to the 13th century, when a Gothic town was staked at Malá Strana. It was also at this time that the predecessor to today’s Baroque St Nicholas Cathedral was founded, not far from a Roman rotunda of Saint Wenceslas, which ceased to exist during the construction of a giant Professed House of the Jesuit Order in the 17th century.
Today, the square is divided into two parts, each of which is independent and compelling in its own right. The upper part of Malostranské Square represents a calm Baroque space dominated by the dynamic undulated face of the Saint Nicholas Cathedral. The centerpiece of the square is the plague column of the Holy Trinity, which is one of the most beautiful in Prague. The second part of the square shows a panorama of the cathedral and the Prague Castle, whose silhouette dramatically unfolds as one walks through the square. This “theatrical illusion” is even more evident in the lower part of Malostranské Square, whose Baroque composition is dominated by the dome and tower of Saint Nicholas Church in the centre of the Square, rising above charming burghers’ houses.
A dominant historical feature of the lower part of the Square is the former Malostranská Town Hall, which testifies to the rapid flourishing of the city during the reign of the art-loving Emperor Rudolf II. Its architecture was inspired by contemporary buildings in the German town of Augsburg and shows the remarkable breadth of influences meeting and clashing in Rudolfinian Prague. Today, the Town Hall serves as a restaurant and a club – Malostranská Beseda: a reaffirmation of the unique role played by the Town Hall in the fabric of the city to this day.
The northern part of the Square is lined with aristocratic palaces, which are unfortunately paralyzed due to their incorporation into the vast complex housing the Parliament of the Czech Republic.