Some of the Prague’s places of worship will open their doors on the evening of June 12 for Church Night (Noc kostelů), so the public can see inside. This will be one of the first public festivals after coronavirus restrictions have been eased.
The event takes place nationwide, with people able to visit some 1,122 churches and other places of worship participating, staging some 3,649 program events. In Prague, some 126 venues will be staging 648 events ranging from guided tours to concerts.
The number of both venues and events is scaled back this year, and many places that traditionally participate are not included this times. There is a map and other online tools to help you plan your expedition in advance, so you won’t head out to a closed place of worship by mistake.
Some places start their events start around 4 pm, though most are between 6 pm and 11 pm. Guided tours and lectures will be in Czech, but most places allow people to look around on their own and the music is universal.
Many of the places have rubber stamps so you can mark a souvenir card to show how many places you visited.
St Vitus’ Cathedral at Prague Castle has several concerts lined up and the possibility of visiting the bell tower and seeing the St Wenceslas Chapel. Lines can be very long, which eats into the opportunity to see other places before closing time.
The Prague Castle area has some other places that are easier to get into. The Church of All Saints is open all night and has a harp concert. The Church of St. Benedict on Hradčanské náměstí is worth a peek for its mummy of the St Elekta, displayed in a glass case.
In Malá Strana, one highlight is the Church of St Thomas, which will be serving beer. The cloister has a wall of historical tombstones. The Baroque church interior also has two mummies wearing face masks. The nearby St Nicholas Church on Malostranské náměstí is one of Prague’s Baroque gems. Our Lady Victorious, with the wax Infant Jesus of Prague, is worth a stop, too, but is generally accessible with no admission fee almost every day.
At Old Town Square at 4 pm, sculptor Petr Váňa will give a lecture, in Czech, about the newly constructed Marian Column. The nearby churches Our Lady of Týn, St Nicholas, St. Havel, Our Lady of the Snow, and St Salvator will all be allowing visitors.
Recently, it was the anniversary of Operation Anthropoid, which culminated with Czechoslavoak paratroopers trapped in crypt the Church of Sts Cyril and Methodius at the corner of Resslova and Na Zderaze, just below Karlovo náměstí. Both the upper church and lower crypt, which serves as memorial to the slain paratroopers, can be toured.
Not to far away at the southwest corner of Karlovo náměstí is the Church of St John in the Rock, designed by Baroque architect Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer.
For people who want to see the most at one stop, there are four venues open in Vyšehrad, plus tow others in the vicinity. The Basilica of Sts Peter and Paul has several notable relics including a bone from St Valentine and a copy of a famous icon of St Mary.
The St Martin Rotunda is one of Prague’s oldest buildings. The foundation of the Church of St. Lawrence is a significant archaeological site. Chapel of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist is another ruin that is seldom accessible.
On the other side of Nuselský most (Nusle Bridge), the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and St. Charles the Great sports a unique triple-domed design, and cannonballs in its exterior walls.
Below Vyšehrad in Podolí is the quaint Church of Archangel Michael with its Baroque wooden bell tower. Several concerts are planned there.
Other venues are open across the city, which should let people see some places of worship near their homes. The idea behind Church Night is for people to become more acquainted with not only the physical religious buildings, but also what the various participating religions offer on an ongoing basis.
This edition is the 12th annual Church Night. In 2009, just 25 churches participated across the country.