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Lesser town - Prague 1 Category: Church towers

Church of St. Nicholas in Lesser Town

GPS: 50°5'16.08"N, 14°24'12.96"E

One of Prague’s Baroque jewels is the St. Nicholas Church in Lesser Town Square. The Jesuits had merit in building this church after they received imperial consent to demolish the existing ancient church of the same sanctification.

The plans of the new church were prepared by Kryštof Dientzenhofer, who also directed its construction in 1703 – 1711. Completion of the property was delayed for another 50 years due to insufficient funds, the Black Death (1713), and to war events between 1741 and 1744. Kiliaán Ignác Dientzenhofer carried out the task after his father died. He created the church ending with dome and part of the tower up to its gallery. Completion of the church stayed within the family. After the death of Dientzenhofer junior architect Anselmo Lurago completed the building. He created the upper part, a slim bell tower in rococo style, which has the same height as the dome – 74 m.

Each property (church and tower) had from the beginning two different owners. The church was owned by the Jesuit order and the tower was owned by Lesser Town Municipality (as compensation for a bell tower demolished by Jesuits before the church construction). The tower has its own entry above which the emblem of Lesser Town is placed together with the number plate 566.

The bell tower was in the past occupied by a watchman, who was observing the surrounding areas watching out for fire. During the communist regime the tower was a secret observatory point for the State police. From this point they could monitor entrances and gardens of neighbouring Embassies of western countries.

From 1992 the former bell tower, which maintained its original purpose till 1891, is now a municipal property in the management of the Prague Information Service. It was opened to the public after the installation of the Music of Prague Choirs exhibition, which was created in cooperation with the National Museum.