The role that Czech composers have played within classical music is, of course, highly influential – and there’s certainly no shortage of concerts in Prague to remind you should you forget. However, when it comes to experiencing first-hand the magic of a classical performance, there are few spaces more atmospheric than a church. Which, as any visitor to Prague quickly learns, is another Czech specialty. Indeed, the city is blessed with an abundance of baroque churches, from the monolithic St Clements Cathedral to St Salvator and the St. Simon & St. Jude Church – the home of the Prague Symphony Orchestra. So, put on an extra layer, pull up a pew and experience the best church concerts in Prague.
This architecturally important – and visually splendid – cathedral forms part of the historical complex Klementinum in the Old Town. A fine example of Baroque architecture and containing incredible stuccowork, sculptures and the original organ, the church also possesses excellent acoustics. Utilising this innate quality is a busy programme of popular chamber concerts, many of which focus on the Czech classic tradition. Crucially, the venue is heated during winter – if this doesn’t sound like a key concern, you’re yet to experience a Prague winter.
This magnificent 17th century church situated in Prague’s Old Town Square is another popular venue for classical concerts in Prague. At Christmas, the church becomes the Baroque backdrop for a season of Christmas events, including the highly atmospheric Christmas Mass. Be sure to watch out for their magical Night Organ Concerts, as these are special late-night recitals by candlelight that showcases their two fully restored Baroque organs.
One of the best places to catch classical concerts in Prague, this Baroque church – which has its origins as a hospital chapel in the 15th century – belongs to the Prague Symphony Orchestra. As you might expect, the quality of these chamber performances are in a different league to some of the tourist-primed recitals taking place across town (there are none on this list, mind). Interestingly, the musical significance of the church actually reaches back to the 18th century, when Mozart and Haydn put in appearances on the organ. They were attracted by the instrument’s particularly unique tone – and you can still hear it in action today.
Consecrated in honour of St Francis of Assisi, the distinctive forty-metre-high dome cupola of St Francis of Assisi is an easily spottable landmark located on the Knight of the Cross Square. Inside it’s typically Baroque, featuring a fresco by V. V. Reiner and an alter painting by J.K. Liška. But what of its concerts? Actually, thanks to the unusual nave shape, the space has a unique sound profile, making a visit here worth your while. The programme, which makes excellent use of the church’s recently restored 18th century organ, features music from Schubert, Bach and, of course, Dvořák. Oh, and every day, the concerts are heralded by a fanfare of trumpets on the church steps.
Not to be confused with the other St Nicholas in the Old Town Square, this imposing edifice is one of the best examples of Prague Baroque. The highly ornamental detailing of the interior, with its marble pulpit and sculptures and spectacular fresco by František Xaver Palko that furnishes the famous dome, makes for a startlingly monolithic setting. But the church is a feast for the ears as well: their seasonal programme of events takes in hymn cycles for Advent, Christmas performances and New Year concerts as well as their regular Organ Wednesday events.
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