Catch a classical concert here in the evening - dozens are held each year, played on the church’s magnificent organ. You may even be lucky enough to hear music composed by St. Nicholas himself.
Not to be confused with Prague’s other notable Church of St. Nicholas - which is just across the river, overlooking the Old Town Square - this church is nestled in the city’s Lesser Town. Widely hailed as one of the best examples of Prague’s High Baroque architecture, it is a marvel of opulent design.
Consecrated in 1752, the church was designed and constructed over several decades by the Baroque master Krystof Dienzenhofer and his son Kilian Ignaz Dienzenhofer. Its rather plain exterior belies a fantastically ornate sanctuary.
The 70-metre high cupola sits above a ceiling that boasts one of Europe’s largest frescoes, painted by the Viennese artist Jan Lukas Kracker and covering an area of 1,500 square metres. It features impressive trompe l’oeil work, creating the illusion of the church interior reaching into an open sky. Kracker reportedly wished nobody to see the work until it was finished, and worked in solitude: one curious Jesuit hid behind a pillar to watch him, and Kracker punished him by featuring him in the fresco, where he can still be seen today.
The carved pink and white marble throughout is stunning, forming a series of pilasters with gold cornices leading down the nave. In the church’s upper gallery, the beautiful oil paintings by Karel Škréta are just as impressive, and feature an unusual portrayal of Christ crucified without his feet crossed. The church is also filled with over 50 spectacular gilt and marble statues by a wide range of renowned artists.
It is possible to climb 229 steps for a wonderful panoramic view from the 65 metre bell tower, once used as a lookout post for fires in the city: a watchman would ring the bell for alarm, and signal the fire’s position with a lamp or a red flag.
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