The name Malá Strana translated into English literally means “Little Side”, though it is frequently referred to as “Lesser Town”, “Lesser Quarter”, or “Lesser Side”. This name derives from its position on the left (west) bank of the river Vltava, on the slopes just below the Prague Castle, in opposition to the larger towns of Prague on the right bank, to which it is conjoined by the Charles Bridge.
The town was originally called the New Town beneath the Prague Castle after 1257 when it was founded. After Charles IV founded the New Town of Prague in 1348, the town was renamed the Lesser Town of Prague. In the 17th century the unofficial name Little Quarter was first used.
In the Middle Ages, it was a dominant center of the ethnic German (and since 16th century also Italian) citizens of Prague. It also housed a large number of noble palaces while the right-bank towns were comparatively more bourgeois and more Bohemian Czech.