The towers of St Nicholas Church in Prague. Dienstenhofer, a German architect, built the church in an early 18th century Baroque style.

St Nicholas Church

Top choice in Malá Strana

Malá Strana is dominated by the huge green cupola of St Nicholas Church, one of Central Europe’s finest baroque buildings. (Don’t confuse it with the other Church of St Nicholas on Old Town Square.) On the ceiling, Johann Kracker’s 1770 Apotheosis of St Nicholas is Europe’s largest fresco (clever trompe l’oeil techniques have made the painting merge almost seamlessly with the architecture).

The building was begun by famed baroque architect Kristof Dientzenhofer; his son Kilian continued the work and Anselmo Lurago finished the job in 1755. Mozart himself tickled the ivories on the 2500-pipe organ in 1787, and was honoured with a requiem Mass here (14 December 1791). Take the stairs up to the gallery to see Karel Škréta’s gloomy 17th-century Passion Cycle paintings and the scratchings of bored 1820s tourists and wannabe Franz Kafkas on the balustrade. See the website for the church's program of classical music concerts.

You can climb the church’s bell tower via a separate entrance on the corner of Malostranské náměstí and Mostecká. During the communist era, the tower was used to spy on the nearby American embassy – on the way up you can still see a small, white cast-iron urinal that was installed for the use of the watchers.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Malá Strana attractions

1. St Nicholas Church Bell Tower

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During the communist era, the bell tower of St Nicholas Church was used to spy on the nearby American embassy – on the way up you can still see a small,…

2. Malostranské Náměstí

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Malostranské náměstí, Malá Strana’s main square, is divided into an upper and lower part by St Nicholas Church, the district’s most distinctive landmark…

3. Smiřický Palace

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On 22 May 1618 Czech nobles gathered at the Smiřický Palace to plot a rebellion against their Habsburg rulers. The next day they flung two Habsburg…

4. Vrtbov Garden

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This ‘secret garden’, hidden along an alley at the corner of Tržiště and Karmelitská, was built in 1720 for the Earl of Vrtba, the senior chancellor of…

5. House at the Three Fiddles

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This Gothic building reconstructed in Renaissance style during the 17th century once belonged to a family of violin makers.

6. St John of Nepomuk House


Built in 1566, the St John of Nepomuk house is adorned with the image of one of Bohemia’s patron saints.

7. Museum Montanelli


Tourists, drawn in by an attractive cafe and bookshop, rub shoulders with connoisseurs of the Czech art world in this private gallery. Having rapidly…