Prague city district and historic city on the left bank of Vltava below the Prague Castle. Some kind of settlement under the Hradčany hill existed already in prehistoric times, since the 9th century several mercantile settlements and courts developed here. In 1257, this quarter was promoted to a town and it gained its current layout under the rule of Charles IV, who had new walls built around the city. In the following centuries, the Lesser Town suffered, probably more than any other of the Prague towns from natural disasters and war events, and it grew to its current beauty only throughout the 17th and 18th centuries when new magnificent Baroque palaces and churches were built up on the ruins left after all the fires and destructions. Only a few buildings have been built in the Lesser Town since the end of the 18th century and the district is thus a unique example of a Baroque city in its almost original state.