Czech name: Kostel svatého Mikuláše
The baroque Church of St. Nicholas, built between 1704 and 1755, replaced a Gothic church in Prague that was consecrated in 1283. Baroque architecture followed the Renaissance period and originated in Rome in the 16th century. This church in Prague should be included when you are planning a schedule for your Prague sightseeing. Opportunities to view the church include tours, church services, concerts, and other events.
Location & How to Get There
You can reach the Church of St. Nicholas in Old Town Prague by subway, tram, taxi, or walking. You may want to base your method of travel on the opportunity for more Prague sightseeing:
- Starting at the Prague main station (Hlavní nádraží) using the subway and the tram, take the Museum A route that runs every five minutes to Malostranská. Transfer to the tram to be taken to St. Nicholas Church (Kostel svatého Mikuláše). Total travel time is 12 minutes.
- To travel by subway only, starting at the Prague main station (Hlavní nádraží), take the Museum A route to Malostranská and walk five minutes to Nicholas Church. Total travel time is 18 minutes.
- To travel by tram only, starting at the Prague main station, walk seven minutes to the tram station Hlavní nádraží. Take the Hlavní nádraží route that runs every five minutes to Malostranské náměstí (Lesser Town Square) – tram number 15 – and arrive at Nicholas Church. Total travel time is 23 minutes.
- To travel by taxi, starting at the Prague main station, call for a taxi and receive door-to-door service. Total travel time is six minutes.
Opening Hours & Entry
Weekly masses are scheduled at 8:30 pm on Sundays.
In January, the Church of St. Nicholas is opened daily for tours from 9 am to 4 pm. From February through June, tours are offered daily from 9 am to 5 pm. In July and August, tours are offered from 9 am to 6 pm except on days of concerts when tours end at 5 pm. In September up to the 20th, tours are provided from 9 am to 5 pm. On and after September 21st and through October, tours are provided from 10 am to 4 pm, There are daily tours in November and December, but the hours are not available.
Concerts and other special events are also scheduled at various times.
Admission for tours is 100 CZK for adults. For adults over 65 and children and students from ten to 26, admission is 60 CZK. Children under 10 with an adult and ZTP, ZTP, and P card holders are free. School groups of ten or more aged ten to 15 years are 40 CZK each. You can purchase tickets at the church box office with CZK or credit card.
The one-hour concert prices are 490 CZK for adults. For adults over 65, children aged ten to 15, and students from ten to 26, admission is 300 CZK. Children under ten are free. Admission for some subscribers is 100 CZK per concert. If you will attend multiple concerts throughout the year, an annual 900 CZK, non-transferable subscription is recommended. For the subscription, you receive nine concert tickets with an extension for two guests. Tickets can be purchased at the church box office or online.
What to Do & What to See
Information about the Church of St. Nicholas should start with a couple unusual facts. First, the church’s bell tower has always been owned by the city of Prague. Second, the patron of the church chose to try to remain anonymous. So, instead of placing his own coat of arms on the church, Václav Count of Kolowrat-Liebsteinsky placed the coat of arms of his uncle, Frantisek Karel Count of Kolowrat-Liebsteinsky, on the church.
The interior of the dome is 20 meters in diameter and 57 meters high. The external 79-meter height of the dome is the same as the 79-meter height of the belfry. The Rococo-style belfry was built by Anselmo Lurago between 1751 and 1756. In the chancel, there is a copper cupola. A large crypt with barrel vaults is underneath the church.
On the exterior of the church, convex and concave shapes alternate on the facade. It has three gables, a statue of St. Nicholas, statues of church fathers, a cross, and an IHS monogram. Semicircular stairs lead up to the three entryways.
With over 4,000 pipes measuring up to six meters, the large, Baroque-style organ in the choir area includes Mozart in 1787 as one of its users. After his visit, his Mass in C was showcased at the works initial performance at the church. Thomas Schwarz actually built three organs for the church. A second 18-register, two manual, one pedal organ, built in 1745, is in the side emporium. It has been restored several times and is the organ that is currently used for concerts. The organ under the dome was built by Josef Gartner in 1831. It has six registers and one manual.
Among the artwork displayed inside the church are the 1760 Visitation of the Virgin Mary altar painting, the Adoration of St.. Barbara ceiling painting in the oldest chapel, paintings by St.. Jan Nepomucký in the chapel, sculptures by František Ignác Platzer, frescos by František Xaver Palko inside the dome, frescos by Jan Lukas Tracker, and the pre-1646 Crucifixion and Souls in Purgatory painting by Karel Škréta that was created for the original Gothic St.. Nicholas Church.
The Church of St. Nicholas was designed and built by Kryštof Dientzenhofer; his son, Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer; and his son-in-law, Anselmo Lurago. The plans by Dientzenhofer featured geometrical interconnected cylinders under a dome. The Jesuit priests decided to build a new church in 1673 and originally chose Giovanni Domenico Orsi to design it. The involvement of the Jesuit priests explains why a Jesuit house is located on Malostranské náměstí with the church. Pope Clement XIV. abolished the Jesuit Order. So, in 1775, the church became the parish church of Lesser Town.