Church of St. Nicholas - Old Town Square, Old Town

Church of St. Nicholas

Old Town Square, Old Town

High Baroque church, at present time used by the Czechoslovak Hussite Church, is one of Prague’s most important monuments. Baroque domed building was built according to a plan by K. I. Dientzenhofer in 1732-35 on the site of an older, demolished church; the original church was founded in the 13th century by German merchants and later (from 1635) it belonged to Slavic Benedictines who built an extensive monastery complex there. In 1787 as part of the Joseph‘s II. attempts to reduce the religious power, the church and the monastery were abolished and were used as a warehouse, venue of rope-walking shows and also an exhibition hall, after 1865 also as a military concert hall. From 1871 the church was at disposal of the Russian Orthodox Church and since 1920 it has been used by the Czechoslovak Hussite Church; in 1965-77 a general reconstruction of the church was carried out. The building of the Benedictine monastery was demolished in 1898 as part of the Jewish Town redevelopment and replaced by a Neo-Baroque appartment building (Pařížská street 1/1073), another house was built in place of the demolished prelature (U radnice 5/24). Writer F. Kafka was born in the former monastery building in 1883.

The majestic central church building with a cross composition is finished off by a massive dome and a couple of towers. While the main (eastern) façade of the church overlooks a narrow open space and is rather plain, the side façade facing the south is very richly decorated, featuring statues of A. Braun (St. Nicholas, St. Procopius, themes from the Old and New Testaments, etc.) among other elements. Until 1901 the church was separated from the Old Town Square by the Baroque Krenn’s house. In between there was a little square called Poultry Market – from this place the people passing by looked at the church hence the façade was designed to be seen from short distance and from below (e.g. the leaning statues). The interior of the church is decorated by sculptures of Benedictine saints by A. Braun, stucco decorations by B. Spinetti and frescos by K. D. Asam. The altar with a painting, a large crystal glass chandelier from Harrachov glassworks and other decorations are slightly newer. To the east side (towards Pařížská street) there is a alcove with a statue of St. Nicholas by B. Šimonovský (1906) and a Classicist fountain adapted by J. Štursa. Concerts of classical and religious music take place in the church.

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