There are a few St. Nicholas Churches kicking around Prague – here is the one in Malá Strana (the Lesser Quarter).
The interior is pink pastry, topping even St. James Cathedral in Innsbruck. If bloodthirsty cherubim and frescoes aren’t to your taste, look for the 19th century graffiti on the railings of the second floor balcony.
Or gird your quads for a trip to the tower. You’ll get a splendid view of the city – and a Soviet-era urinal.
During the Cold War, the Russians used the tower as a convenient observatory post. Spies past their prime were sent to the Dedkárna (Old Geezers’ Room) or Dedkostroj (Old Geezers’ Machine) to keep an eye on “enemy” embassies.
St. Nicholas’s ceiling – The Apotheosis of St. Nicholas – comes to you courtesy of the Austrian artist, Johann Lukas Kracker. It’s one of the largest ceiling frescoes in Europe.
Mozart played here.
Or, to be more precise, Mozart played on this organ. Built by the Jesuit Thomas Scwharz (1745-1747), the organ has over 4,000 pipes.
Mozart’s connection with Prague came about through his friendship with composer Frantisek Dusek and his wife Josefina. They first met in Salzburg, when the Duseks were on their honeymoon.
In January 1787, Mozart arrived for his first extended stay in the Paris of the East, conducting The Marriage of Figaro in the Nostic Theatre.
He returned in August, staying at the Dusek’s villa Betramka. There in the peace of the countryside – and in the ripe ground of the local pubs – he polished off the overture for Don Giovanni. According to legend, he wrote part of the score in between turns playing skittles in the garden.
Don Giovanni premiered on the 29th of October, 1787 in the Estates Theatre and was a roaring success. Though he never again achieved that level of accolade, Mozart is still remembered with great fondness by the city.
Check out this article for more on Mozart’s time in Prague.
Malá Strana (“Lesser” or “Little Quarter”) sits in the sunny shadow of Prague Castle. A devastating fire in 1541 wiped out much of the town, creating a tabula rasa for Renaissance and Baroque architects – and graffiti artists.
Informally known as Prague’s Little Venice, Certovka (“Devil’s Stream”) is located in Malá Strana, Prague’s “Lesser Quarter.” In the 16th century, it was called Rosenberg’s ditch/race.
Certovka gained its current moniker from the nearby House of the Seven Devils, which romantic guides will tell you is named after a jilted spinster who lived in the Straka of Nedabylice Palace. An esthetic by nature, she demanded two conditions from anyone who rented the free rooms:
- The furniture must be placed at least half a meter from the walls
- No pictures were to be hung on the wall
One tenant was unlucky enough to be caught violating these rules and was thrown out on his ear. He retaliated by painting six devils on the arcade. And the seventh? That would be his landlady.
The artificial channel runs parallel to the river, near the headquarters of the Knights of Malta, and it’s thought that the Knights began construction on it in the 12th century. There were, and still are, a number of medieval mills on its banks.