Do not get confused. In the Prague city centre, there are two churches of St. Nicholas. One of them is in Malostranské Square, the other one in Staroměstské Square, on the other bank of the Vltava River. When roaming in Prague, you won’t miss any of these architectonic gems.
The most famous Baroque church in Prague
Let’s begin with the more important church of St. Nicholas, the one in Lesser Town of Prague (Malá Strana), just in the heart of Malostranské Square where the Prague archbishopric has its seat. There was a Gothic parish church until 1743. The construction of the most significant Baroque church in Prague took about a hundred years and three generations of significant architects (a father, son and son-in-low: Kryštof Dientzenhofer, Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer a Anselmo Lurago).
Inside St. Nicholas Church, you will be astonished by the monumental space – the walls of false marble and ceiling frescos will make sure you realize you’re standing in the centre of a prime Baroque work of art.
The church tower as an observation post for the state police
The tower of the St. Nicholas Church used to serve as a watchtower and first warnings against the threat of fire or an approaching enemy came from this place. In the times of socialism, the state police (StB) used the strategic watchtower for monitoring the American and the German embassies. Today, any visitor can enjoy the view from the tower on a tour for CZK 70 (full admission).
Concerts like in Mozart’s era
A big showpiece of St. Nicholas Church in Lesser Town of Prague is the main organ from the mid-18th century. More than 4,000 up to six metres tall pipes fascinated even W. A. Mozart who played the organs during his stay in Prague in 1787. These days, St. Nicholas Church holds about 200 concerts a year; regular church services take place every Sunday from 8:30 p.m.
ATTENTION! Information for visitors: due to the renovation of the ceiling fresco in the main nave, there will be scaffolding in St. Nicholas Church for most of the year 2017.
The other church
Another Baroque gem by the same architect – Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer – is St. Nicholas Church at Staroměstské Square. Its construction took five years (1732-1737), and even though it does not reach the monumentality of the church in Lesser Town of Prague, there is a lot to admire about it.
Interior of St. Nicholas Church
The Church of St. Nicholas in the Old Town used to be a centre of the Orthodox Church between 1870 and 1914. Later, the Czechoslovak Hussite Church settled in the church which is still there. Besides the ceiling frescos, organs, stucco decorations and sculptures, you should also notice the church chandelier with a crystal cross which weights 1,400kg. It was made in Harrachov glassworks and given to the local Orthodox Church by the Russian tsar, Alexander II, in 1880.