Just like Prague Castle, the towers at the ends of Charles Bridge and the Old Town Hall, the Church of St. Nicholas is an inherent part of the Prague skyline. One of the most beautiful Baroque structures in Europe, the church has been the jewel in the crown of the Lesser Quarter for 300 years and a place admired by crowds of people from around the world on a daily basis. So let yourself be enchanted by its Baroque magnificence and grandeur!
We can thank the Jesuit order for commissioning one of Prague’s best known sights. The monks longed to build their grandest edifice in Bohemia, and to this end they brought in the Baroque genius, Kryštof Dietzenhofer. When he passed away, his son continued the work and it was he who designed the unique vaulting and the most attractive part of the church – the immense dome. Later, one of the highest bell towers in the Lesser Quarter was built adjoining the main edifice, creating a piece of architecture without rival north of the Alps.
Be amazed by the wonderful decoration
Do you have an idea of how the perfect piece of Baroque architecture should look? You may just encounter that ideal when you enter the church. An impressive interior opens up before you, sporting some opulent embellishment. The incredible ceiling frescoes, some of the largest in Europe, are accompanied by a wealth of sculptural works and a delicate contrast of darkness and light creates a unique impression in the nave. You can also see the huge organ at which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart once played.
Can you find the snooping monk?
There’s a legend associated with the creation of the ceiling frescoes involving a snooping monk. The painter requested he never be watched while working, and that everyone wait to see the finished result. One of the Jesuit monks was so curious that he would watch the artist at work hidden behind one of the columns. However, the painter noticed him and, as a punishment, included him in the fresco as a figure concealed behind a column. During the opening the Jesuits couldn’t believe their eyes and the monk was ashamed of his actions. Can you find him?
A special view
At the Church of St. Nicholas you don’t have to stay on the ground. Don’t miss the climb to the viewing gallery, from where there are views of the nave and a better view of the grand ceiling fresco. You can also scramble to the top of the bell tower which offers wonderful views across the roofs of the Lesser Quarter to the towers of Charles Bridge.