St. Nicholas Church Mala Strana - History

A Brief History of the St. Nicholas Church Prague

St Nicholas Church is the biggest Baroque church in Prague. It is located in the Lesser Town, 5 minutes away from the Charles Bridge. The construction of St. Nicholas church started after the powerful Jesuit Order acquired the rights to the land in 1625 where the previous Gothic Church of St. Nicholas stood in the Middle Ages. The first church of St. Nicholas was demolished together with other buildings at the sight, so a new Jesuit Academy and religious center could be built.

Four architects worked on the creation of this magnificent building. Plans of Giovanni Domenico Orsi were used for the Academy and the first chapel of St. Barbora, so the masses could be carried out regularly. The Dientzenhofer family worked on the Baroque church, with Christoph designing the colossal nave, and his son, Kiian Ignaz, building a 79 m tall cupola in 1737-1752. Kilian's son-in-law, Anselmo Lurago, built a bell tower to match the whole complex. This tower, also 79 m high, was even used for spying during the times of Communism!

St. Nicholas Church Interior

St Nicholas has one of the largest ceiling frescoes in Central Europe depicting the Apotheosis of St. Nicholas from 1761, painted by Johann Lukas Kracker. A fresco of the dome and above the Organ loft was done by Francis Xaver Palko. He portrayed the Heavens and the Holy Father on the first one, and St. Cecilia on the second. The massive statues of the Easter Church Fathers in the nave of the church were sculpted by I. F. Platzer. The artificial marble pulpit portraying the Allegories of Faith, Hope, and Love, as well as an unusual for churches interior scenes - decapitation of St. John. the Baptist - was made by Petr Prachner in around 1765.

Fun Fact about St. Nicholas Church in Lesser Town

  • The church organ from the Jesuit Thomas Schwarz was built in 1745-47 and has over 4,000 pipes. It was played by W.A.Mozart, who liked the acoustics in St. Nicholas church, during his Prague visit.

 

Entrance fee and opening hours of St. Nicholas Church Prague

  • The entrance to the church costs 100czk and also includes a small painting exhibition of Karel Skreta in the upper gallery. 
  • Check out the opening hours of St. Nicholas church on the official website, as it often has masses and concerts, for which it closes.
  • The price for concerts is usually around 490 CZK.
  • The St. Nicholas Tower is not included in the entrance fee and costs 100 CZK to climb. It has multiple small exhibits inside, so you're entertained while going up for 79 m ;)

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Author: Valeriia Zahradnikova and Vaclav Zahradnik, Prague guides certified by Prague City Tourism agency. Valeriia and Vaclav have worked in tourism for over 6 years and have guided thousands of Prague visitors.