St. Nicholas’ Church

Chrám svatého Mikuláse na Malé Strane (St. Nicholas’ Church)

The counter-reformation and the spiritual transformation of the Czech nation were entrusted to the well organized and amply sponsored order of Jesuits. For the performance of its work, the order mainly erected new pretentious buildings, but also bought a number of already existing building sites.

Albrecht von Waldstein, a man of staggering career as well as great misfortune and also at that time the most powerful and rich aristocrat, instigated the handing over of the old Gothic Saint Nicholas church to the order, in spite of protests from the Lesser Town citizens.

At first there were various problems and circumstances which held up the work. Thirty years passed before the construction picked up a good tempo. Management was given into the hands of two prominent architects of Czech baroque – Krystoph Dienzenhofer and his son Kilian Ignaz. The cathedral was consecrated in the year 1752. The superb building, finished in 48 years, was not used for long by the Jesuits. Pope Clement XIV felt uneasy about the growing power and influence of the Jesuit order and abolished it in the year 1773.

The builders of the cathedral perfectly worked out the baroque principle of harmoniously blending different art forms – architecture, sculpturing and painting. Many things they learned from foreign architectural experiences. It is for instance possible to trace elements as they were used by the Frenchman Mansart or the Italian monk Guarnini. Altogether it is one of the most beautiful buildings of Czech baroque.