St. Nicolas Cathedral with the attached group of buildings is the dominating point of the whole Lesser Town Square. The cathedral belongs to our and European most beautiful Baroque constructions whose principle are the intersecting ellipsoids.
The construction started in 1703 in the place of the original Gotic church of the same sanctification. The builders of the church were the Jesuits who gained the place due to the interference of the most influential men of the land – Albrecht von Wallenstein and also due to rich help of the Prague archbishop. It was such a meaningful building that the foundation stone was layed by the Emperor Leopold I. in person.
The first stage of the construction is represented by the top construction art of Kryštof Dientzenhofer who built the aisle space with the side chapels. The construction of the forty meters high, danamically convexly-concavely warped front and of the extensive aisle space was a pure experiment of this kind of the Baroque constructions in our country and also in Europe. Kryštof´s son Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer who took over the construction after his father´s death performed the construction of the chancel with a huge dome of church. Another architect was Anselmo Lurago who added a slender bell tower between 1751-56. The church is entered through an entrance above which a heraldry of the Kolowrat dynasty – the importants patrons of the construction – is hanged. The ceiling fresco painting with the theme of the Glorification of St. Nicolas by Jan Lukáš Kracker with its 1500 square meters belongs to the largest ones in Europe.
Legend of a fresco painting
There is a story related to the origin of this fersco painting that the painter had a wish not to be observed during his work. He wanted to show his work after it would be completed. However one of the Jesuite monks was so curious that he was coming to spy the master during his work and he was hiding behind one of the church columns not to be spotted by the painter. The painter noticed him, anyway, and for punishment he painted his figure on the ceiling fresco as a person observing it all secretly from behind a column. When he was ready with his work after some time and everybody was allowed to see the result they were very amused when they recognized their fellow in the painting. The fresco in the cupola on the theme of the Glorification of the Holy Trinity is the work of František Xaver Palk who was the second-respected artist of his age after V. V. Reiner. The cupola is seventy meters high and the neighbouring bell tower is even seventy-nine meters high.
The aisle of the cathedral is decorated by a number of Late Baroque statues mainly from Ignác František Platzer. Probably the most significant decorative part of the cathedral are the paintings by Karel Škréta – The Crucifixion dating back to 17th century placed in the Chapel of St. Barbara and the Passion Cycle in the church emporiums.
After 1773 when the Jesuite order was cancelled St. Nicolas Cathedral became the main parish church of Lesser Town.
St. Nicolas Cathedral
Praha 1 – Malá Strana
Telefon: +420 257 534 215 – Psalterium
Fax: + 420 257 534 215
November – February daily 9 am – 4 pm (last seightseeing at 3:15 pm)
March – October daily 9 am – 5 pm (last seightseeing at 4:45 pm)
adults 70,- , children older than 10 years, students, 35,-
children up to 10 years and basic school groups incl. pedagogical supervision for free
Free entrance for prayers: 8:30 am – 9:00 am
Commentary in Czech is included, foreign language attendant is for extra charge – the guide is to be booked at least 10 working days in advance
guide service in Czech, English, German and French
Barrier-free access: no