Founded by King Charles IV in 1347, the Church of Our Lady of the Snows was designed to rival St Vitus Cathedral in terms of size and grandeur, but these plans were never completed and what remains today was originally merely to be the presbytery. Nevertheless it is still an imposing sight for the height of its Gothic vaults, which loom up to the height of 111.5 ft (34 m). These original vaults have survived, despite the fact that the church was left to decay for over a century following the Hussite Wars of the mid-15th century. It wasn’t until 150 years later that Franciscan monks took over the abandoned church and built the surrounding monastery, cloister and library in Baroque style.
The church now has a highly ornate Baroque interior, of which the main attraction is the dramatic high altar, designed by Jan Arnošt Heidelberger in 1651 at the behest of Jan the Elder of Talmberk. Studded with gold, gilt and dark marble, it is topped with a massive Crucifix and has the distinction of being the tallest altar in Prague, reaching up to 95 ft (29 m).
The Franciscan Gardens are right next to the complex, a calm respite providing an excellent view of the church’s Gothic vaulting. The church is also steps away from Wenceslas Square in one of the modern city’s busiest districts; it can be seen as part of private walking tours of Prague New Town.
The church is open daily 9am–6pm, but closed during Mass. Admission is CZK 26.50 or free with the Prague Welcome Card. If using public transportation, take Metro Line B to Mustek.