The 130-foot-high (40-meter-high) green cupola of the church of St. Francis of Assisi peeps above the rooftops of Prague’s Staré Město (Old Town). Designed by French architect Jean-Baptiste Mathey, built by Gaudenzio Casanova and Domenico Canevalle, and consecrated in 1688, the neoclassical structure replaced the original Franciscan church, which was built in 1270.
The marble interior of the church is a masterpiece of frenzied baroque frescoes, including a series by Czech artist Václav Vavřinec Reiner depicting the Last Judgment, which adorns the domed cupola. Reiner also painted the portraits of the church’s patrons covering the pillars in the cross-shaped nave. Fellow Czech artist Johann Christoph Lischka painted the angels on the ceiling of the presbytery, as well as Stigmata of St. Francis adorning the main altar.
St. Francis of Assisi Church boasts the second-oldest organ in Prague, a massive gilt affair that was played by both Mozart and Dvořák. Today this Roman Catholic church is one of the city’s most popular venues for classical, baroque, and jazz concerts led by performers from the renowned Czech Opera and Orchestra. The church is small, with only 70 seats, and the concerts are popular, so reserve tickets ahead.
Things to Know Before You Go
St. Francis of Assisi Church is a must-visit for those interested in architecture, art, and history.
Admission to the church is free; concert ticket prices vary.
Taking photos inside is permitted, as long as you don’t use the flash.
How to Get There
St. Francis of Assisi Church is just off Prague’s famed Charles Bridge, less than a 10-minute walk from the center of the Old Town. Metro line A and tram 17 stop at Staroměstská station, a five-minute walk away. Karlovy lázně tram station, served by lines 17 and 18, is a two-minute walk away.
When to Get There
The church is open daily from 10am to 7pm. Concerts and recitals typically take place in the evening. Usually three musicians, soloists from prominent opera and orchestra ensembles, perform at the concerts, which typically last one hour. Close to several elegant restaurants serving traditional and contemporary European food, the church is an ideal place to enjoy a concert before dinner.
Order of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star
Adjacent to the church, you’ll find a monastery of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star. Originally established as a hospital fraternity by Agnes of Bohemia in 1233 and promoted to the order of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star in 1237, it is the only order of Czech origin. You can see the symbol of the order engraved into sidewalk directly in front of the church.