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Prague - St. Nicholas Church Lesser Town
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© Christine Till - CT-Graphics
There are three St. Nicholas churches in Prague. This Church of Saint Nicholas (Kostel svatého Mikuláše in Czech), founded by Jesuits, lies at the centre of the Lesser Town Square (Malostranske namesti). It is the largest of Prague's churches, and one of THE jewels of Baroque architecture in Central Europe.
Construction of St. Nicholas Church Lesser Town Square began in 1703 on the site of the former Parish Church of St. Nicholas, the records for which date back to 1283. It is the masterpiece of Kryštof and Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer, a father and son duo. Unfortunately, due to insufficient funds, the Black Death, and war events, neither lived to see its completion.
The slim Bell Tower in Roccoco style has exactly the same height as the dome – 74 m. That's because each property (church and tower) had from the beginning different owners. The church was owned by the Jesuit order and the tower was owned by the Lesser Town Municipality (as compensation for a bell tower demolished by Jesuits before the church construction). As neither of them wanted their property to be lower than the other, the only solution was to build the dome and the tower in the same height.
In the past the belltower was occupied by a watchman, who observed 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. Since 1992, the belltower is again municipal property.
June 14th, 2012
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