Often dubbed the city of a thousand spires, Prague is home to a number of churches, which impress visitors and locals with their beauty, and inspire with their history. Documenting this European town’s history, and the evolution of architectural styles, these religious edifices are packed with valuable religious art pieces.
Some of them, such as St. Vitus Cathedral or St. George Basilica belong on the list the most famous and beautiful churches in the world. Most churches in Prague are open as they are used for masses, although only a very small percentage of the city’s inhabitants still practice their religion. Also thanks to the wonderful acoustics they are on a regular basis used as venues for classical musical concerts.
Whether it be a chilly winter or blossoming spring during your visit, these sites do not lose their charm in any season. Do not miss the wonderful opportunity of the Night of the Churches programs, where for one night all churches are open to public with concerts and seminars.
St. Vitus Cаthеdrаl
The spires of St. Vitus Cathedral soar above the ramparts of the Prague Castle complex. Being the seat of the Archbishop of Prague nowadays, this elegant and domineering French Gothic church of Prague holds a historical importance as well, as it was for centuries the venue where coronation ceremonies of Czech royals were held.
The construction project of this impressive cathedral started in 1344 at King John the Blind’s initiative. Although the king passed away in 1346, the project was continued by King Charles IV (John the Blind’s successor), who entrusted the French master Mathieu d’Arras with managing the works. D’Arras did not get a chance to complete the project because of his sudden death only a few years later. Peter Parler took on the responsibility, following D’Arras’ lines, but also adding his own touch.
Another part of the cathedral dating from Peter Parler’s times is the impressive chancel, underneath which you can see a royal mausoleum, home of some sumptuous tombs. They were built between 1571 and 1589 for Ferdinand I and his wife, upon the Flemish sculptor Alexander Colyn’s designs. While visiting the chance, you will also notice the tomb of John of Nepomuk – a Czech martyr, dating from 1736. It bears the signature of a famous Austrian architect Joseph Emanuel von Erlach. If you are gasping at the tomb’s majestic look, you should know that two tons of silver were used to this effect.
While inside this awe-inspiring church, you will undoubtedly notice the nave with its huge stained glass windows. Pay special attention to the Cyril and the Methodius windows, and admire their Art Nouveau style. Their design belongs to Alfons Mucha.
St Gеоrgе’ѕ Bаѕiliса
Founded by Vratislaus I of Bohemia, this is the second oldest church in Prague. The basilica of St George is situated behind the St Vitus Cathedral within the Prague Castle complex.
Founded by Prince Vratislav, this Prague church went through a series of transformations and renovations along its history. The red facade of St Georges Basilica in Prague Castle dates from the early Baroque period (the 17th century), but the church’s history actually goes back to 920, making it the oldest surviving building in the Castle complex. 50 years after the initial construction was finished, the basilica was enlarged as St. George’s Benedictine Convent was added. In the 12th century, it was almost completely destroyed by a fire, and was rebuilt in 1143.
Inside the basilica, you can admire its wooden ceiling as well as the nicely decorated windows. The altar painting and frescos in the dome belong to V.V. Reiner. The church also houses several tombs – including that of St. Ludmila, located in the Gothic Chapel.
Built upon Benigna Katerina Lobkowicz’ initiative, Loreta is an important pilgrimage site in Prague as it stands next to a replica of Santa Casa – the famous Holy Hut, in which the Virgin Mary is believed to have lived with baby Jesus in Nazareth can be seen on site. The legend says the angels transported this house from the Holy Land to Italy in the 13th century. Several replicas were built across Europe during the Baroque period.
This Prague church’s shrine was designed in a Baroque style. The chime features 27 hand bells. If you are around at the sharp our, you can hear the bells playing Our Lady’s song “We Greet You A Thousand Times” . Inside this beautiful church of Prague, you can admire magnificent stucco reliefs – masterpieces of Italian artists depicting scenes from the prophets’ lives.
Founded by the canonic order of the Premonstratensians, the Strahov Monastery was first erected as a Romanesque stone monastery in 1182. Almost completely ruined by a fire in 1258, the church was reconstructed in a Gothic style, and added a few Baroque notes later on. The Strahov Monastery suffered several other hits along its history, being plundered by the Hussites, later on by the Swedish troops during the Thirty Years’ War, and eventually bombarded by the French army in 1742.
After the fall of the Communism, this monastery re-entered the Premonstratensians’ possession, nowadays being a pilgrimage site. Inside the Basilica of Our Lady, you can admire frescoes signed by Neunhertz (1774) depicting scenes from the life of saint patron of the church – St. Norbert. The marble altar is impressive. The organ Mozart played on during his visit of the Strahov Monastery back in 1787 can still be seen within the abbey.
When visiting the church, a must-see is the famous Strahov Library, comprising one of the oldest monastic collections in the world. The Theological Hall, whose construction was completed in 1679, is home to 18,000 volumes, mainly editions of the Bible in various languages. Built a century later, the Philosophical Hall, contains an impressive number (over 42,000 volumes) of books covering different fields, including astronomy, philosophy, history, and mathematics.
Churсh of Our Lаdу Before Týn
Church of Our Lady Before Týn is located in the very centre of the Old Square and is therefore one of the more recognizable churches of Prague.
The two spires on the church are not symmetrical; they are meant to represent femininity and masculinity, a crucial element to the Gothic architecture that distinguishes it from the rest.
It has a stunning interior and one of the most notable Czech painters, Karl Škréta, provided the church with a beautiful painting of the Virgin Mary which is displayed above the main altar.
St. Jilji Churсh
Located not far from the Old Town Square, this church is hidden away in the narrow streets of Prague, but it is not less strikingly beautiful! Sometimes a city’s best kept secrets are its most beautiful treasures – the same applies to this stunning 13th century church. The extremely detailed interior shows talented craftsmanship and leaves every visitor in awe. Yet another church to be added on the list of concert halls; with its amazing acoustics, a classical concert in St. Jilji Church is an unforgettable experience.
Simple yet wonderful – the Bethlehem Chapel has a quiet, peaceful charm about it which has a truly calming effect which resonates through for the rest of your stay in Prague. Not one of the typical features of the city, with its Romanesque/Baroque architecture and its traditional look, it gives an insight into what Czech Republic used to look like in the past with smaller towns and villages. Another one to explore on your visit of Prague!
Prague Sightseeing Tours
| Prague History and Bohemian Culture Tour
Delve into Prague’s rich Bohemian history and culture on this enlightening 4-hour walking tour.Book Now
|Prague by Night Walking Tour & Cruise
End a day in Prague on a high note with this evening walking tour and River cruise!Book Now
|Prague in One Day Sightseeing Tour
Discover the magic of Prague, a modern and vibrant city full of energy, on this introductory tour.Book Now
|Stories of Jewish Prague Walking Tour
Hear many stories and visit the five remaining synagogues, the Old Jewish Cemetery & Town Hall.Book Now