|The beautifully crafted, 13th century St. Giles Church (Kostel sv. Jilji) is situated in the heart of the Old Town, set amongst the narrow streets and quaint buildings in this enchanting area of Prague.|
Gothic on the outside and Baroque within, St. Giles is a grand edifice, its high ceilings adorned with ornate frescos.
St. Giles Church was founded in 1238 by Bishop Jan IV, then remodelled by Dominican monks in 1340-1370, when it became the base of the religious reformer Milic of Kromeriz.
In 1625, the church was donated to the Dominican order, which has served here and in the adjoining monastery ever since.
Baroque elements added to St. Giles in the 18th century include the stuccoed interior by B. Spinetti and ceiling frescoes by V.V. Reiner.
The main altar is breath-taking, adorned with polished gold relics centred around an image of the crucifixion. Throughout the church there are impressive marble spiral columns and intricate wood-carvings - most notable are four confession booths carved in the 18th century by R. Prachnerem.
Extensive restoration of the church in recent years has brought out the finer details and vibrant colours of the original construction. Works are funded in part by visitors' contributions, which includes receipts from classical music concerts.
The magnificent organ at St. Giles dates from 1737 and has a rare historical value. It is the biggest classical organ in Prague, with 3500 reed-pipes, and is decorated with Baroque wood-carvings by F.I. Weise.
The unique acoustic quality of the organ, which draws some of the finest organists in the country to perform on it, is demonstrated perfectly during the concerts.
The historical beauty of St. Giles Church also attracts film makers. Scenes from the film Amadeus, directed by Milos Forman, were filmed here.
If you wish to attend a concert, even the benches you sit on date from around 1686.
The concerts are popular, so it is wise to book in advance. And by doing so, it is nice to know that you are contributing to the upkeep of this wonderful, ancient building.
In winter, St. Giles Church is heated, but it is still advisable to wear warm clothing for concerts.
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To explore the sights in Prague, take a Prague tour.