Kampa – an ‘island’ bounded by the Vltava and Čertovka (the Devil’s Stream) – is the most peaceful and picturesque part of Malá Strana. It was once farmland (the name Kampa comes from campus, Latin for ‘field’), but in the 13th century Prague’s first mill, the Sovovský mlýn (now Kampa Museum), was built here, and other mills followed.
The north part of the island was settled in the 16th century after being raised above flood level. (In 1939 the river was so low that it was again joined to the mainland, and coins and jewellery were found in the dry channel.) Houses and restaurants are clustered around a picturesque little square called Na Kampě; at its northern end, at about waist height on the wall to the left of the little gallery under the stairs leading up to Charles Bridge, is a small memorial plaque that reads Výska vody 4.žáří 1890 (height of waters, 4 September 1890), marking the level reached by the floodwaters of 1890. Directly above it – above head height – is another marking the height of the 2002 floods.
The area where the Čertovka passes under Charles Bridge is sometimes called Prague’s Venice – the channel is often crowded with dinky tour boats.