Czech Open Information Project
THE CHURCH OF SAINT NICHOLAS
The baroque church of St. Nicholas rising up from the middle of Mala Strana Square
dominates the area with its lofty, yet elegantly balanced tower and dome. It was built,
together with the Jesuit college, in accordance with the terms of a bequest by Frantisek
Libstejnsky of Kolovrat, on the site of the former Gothic parish church of St. Nicholas.
The work was in the hands of the Jesuits, who called on Domenico Orsi in 1673 to
design the college and on Krystof Dientzenhofer for the church, the latter completing the
nave and facade between 1704 and 1711. The sanctuary and monumental drum and
dome were raised in the years 1737 - 1752 to the designs of Kilian Ignac Dientzenhofer,
whose son-in-law Anselmo Lurago completed the building in 1755. The vault over the
nave, with its painting glorifying St. Nicholas by Jan Lukas Kracker dated 1760, is a
perfect example of baroque trompe l'oeil. No less important artistically are the frescos
in the sanctuary and side chapels executed by the well-known Czech late baroque
painters Frantisek Xaver Palko, Josef Kramolin, Josef Hager and Josef Redelmayer.
Among the framed pictures the most remarkable are the Passion Cycle by Karel Skre‚ta
in the upper galleries, a work by the Neapolitan master Francesco Solimena and others
by the Jesuit painter Ignac Raab. The most significant sculptural works are the
monumental figures of the Fathers of the eastern church under the pendentives of the
dome which were executed by Frantisek I. Platzer and his school. The altar has other
sculptures by Jan B. Kohl, Richard Prachner and Petr Prachner. Today the college
buildings have been put to secular uses while the church, apart from its liturgical role, is
occasionally used for concerts.