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10/17/2016

Renowned Prague Baroque

The Baroque style is what makes Prague so unique. After just a short walk you will understand why.

Baroque and Prague are a combination, which attracts visitors from all over the world to the Czech Republic. The architectural style full of emotion, drama and decorative splendour has (fortunately) left its indelible imprint on the visage of the city on the River Vltava. You will see it on churches, palaces and burgher houses, which the Baroque architects imparted with a unique beauty that shines, tempts, ensnares and won’t let go. Prague Baroque is simply a true phenomenon.
 

New World and Hradčany

The best starting point of your search for Baroque in Prague is at a place, which a normal tourist will hardly ever visit. But since you are reading this article you will know about the scenic and inconspicuous quarter called New World situated not far from Prague Castle. Locals often consider it to be the most beautiful part of Prague, yet there are not many tourists to be found there. They wander around the maze of winding streets between medieval houses. A true Baroque gem is the House At the Golden Grape, which resembles a small palace.

From New World it is not far to Loreto Square, with two significant Baroque buildings. The larger of them is Černín Palace, but the older one is Loreta, consisting of the Holy Hut surrounded by cloisters, the Church of the Lord’s Birth, and a tower with a famous chime, founded in 1626. However, few people know that the Baroque façade was created almost a hundred years later. Its designer was the famous Baroque architect, Krystof Dientzenhofer, with the assistance of his son Kilian Ignatius .

From Loreto Square it's just a short journey to Hradčanské Square, where you will find the Baroque plague column, the Tuscan Palace, and particularly the Archbishop's Palace, the seat of the Archbishops of Prague and one of the most important Baroque buildings in Prague.

Lesser Town

From Prague Castle you can go straight down and come to Lesser Town, where there is perhaps the largest concentration of Baroque buildings in Prague. Its symbol and perhaps even a Baroque symbol of the entire capital is the Church of St. Nicholas. Kilian Ignatius Dientzenhofer most likely took over its construction from his father Krystof.. The dominant feature of the whole building is the Bell Tower, commanding a beautiful view of the historic core of the city. In the interior of the church you will discover everything you would expect from High Baroque – a magnificent play of light and shadow, illusive frescos, a lavish sculptural decoration and an almost 80 m-high dome with a lantern.

Gardens and the Infant Jesus

Baroque architecture was not restricted only to buildings! The Baroque style can also be seen in the composition of gardens, as is proven by one of the most beautiful Baroque gardens in EuropeVrtba Garden. It is an oasis of peace in the middle of a big city, where you will experience dramatic moments only when looking at the emotional sculptures by Matyáš Bernard Braun. A short walk away you will find the church with the famous Infant Jesus of Prague. Another place well worth seeing is Wallenstein Palace, the largest Baroque palace in Prague. This imposing building that in its time surpassed even Prague Castle with its grandiosity and luxurious decorations is now the residence of the Senate of the Czech Republic. The Palace is open at weekends free of charge and its garden can be visited by the public every day also free of charge. The impressive sala terrena is the venue of concerts and other cultural events in the summer season.

Old Town

By crossing the River Vltava on Charles Bridge which is decorated with thirty Baroque statues, you will come to the streets of Old Town. Immediately behind the bridge you will encounter the large Baroque premises of Klementinum. What used to be a Jesuit College in the past is now the National Library of the Czech Republic. According to the voting on the popular Bored Panda website in 2015, the Baroque library in Klementinum was chosen as the most beautiful library in the world. Whether the voters were dazzled by the hall with fresco decorations, ornamental shelves full of old books, several valuable globes or the superb combination of all of these is probably not important, more important is that in addition to the Baroque library, you will be able to visit the Astronomical Tower overlooking the heart of the historical centre of Prague.

Walking past the Clam-Gallas Palace built to the design of the most significant Baroque architect from Austria, Johann Bernhard Fischer of Erlach, you will get to Old Town Square, the centre of tourism in Prague. There you can also admire significant Baroque sites, such as the Church of St. Nicholas (having the same name as the Church of St. Nicholas in the Lesser Town is purely coincidental and often confusing) and St. James's Basilica. In its north nave make sure to take a look at the Baroque tombstone of Count Jan Václav Vratislav of Mitrovice as it is considered to be the most beautiful in the country.