On the Old Town Square stands the Church of St Nicholas (in Czech Kostel sv. Mikuláše), Prague’s Baroque temple.
Its imposing white façade topped by a bronze dome is a landmark for tourists and locals alike, thanks to its location in the north-western corner of Prague ‘s most famous square.
But it was not always so visible: originally the church was hidden by a building demolished in 1902, the Krenn House, and the neo-Gothic wing of the Town Hall, destroyed in 1945 and never rebuilt.
Visit it by day to admire its richly decorated interior with statues, frescoes and marble; then come back in the evening to be amazed by the intricate play of light or to indulge in the excitement of music: major classical music concerts are regularly held in the church.
There are two churches dedicated to St Nicholas in the centre of Prague. The Church of St. Nicholas in the Old Town should not be confused with the church of the same name in the Lesser Quarter, on the opposite bank of the Vltava River. The latter is the larger of the two, second only to St. Vitus Cathedral.
The present Church of St. Nicholas in the Old Town Square was built in 1732, consecrated as early as 1737 and completed about two years later.
The original parish church, on which the present one was built, dates back to 1273 and is thus one of the oldest religious buildings in the Old Town. Its original location saw it facing a small square called the ‘chicken market’ and surrounded by buildings that, as we have already mentioned, were demolished over time.
In the 17th century, the parish church became the property of the Benedictine monks, who turned it into a convent.
The design of the church as we see it today was entrusted to the German-born architect Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, also the author of the other church dedicated to St Nicholas in Prague. In designing the church, the architect was limited by the narrow space available. He finally opted for a church conceived as the elongated central body of a cross plan, surmounted by a dome resting on an octagonal drum.
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