The immense dome and bell tower of St Nicholas, which dominate Malá Strana, are monuments to the money and effort that the Catholic Church sank into the Counter-Reformation. The church was commissioned by the Jesuits, and saw three generations of architects, several financial crises and the demolition of much of the neighbourhood between presentation of the first plans in 1653 and final completion in 1755. The rich façade by Christoph Dientzenhofer, completed around 1710, conceals an interior and dome by his son Kilián Ignaz that's dedicated to high Baroque at its most flamboyantly camp - bathroom-suite pinks and greens, swooping golden cherubs, swirling gowns and dramatic gestures. There's even a figure coyly proffering a pair of handcuffs.
A trompe l'oeil extravaganza, created by the Austrian Johann Lukas Kracker, covers the ceiling, seamlessly blending with the actual structure of the church below. Frescoes portray the life and times of St Nicholas, best known as the Bishop of Myra and the bearer of gifts to small children, but also the patron saint of municipal administration. Maybe this is why St Nicholas's was restored by the communists in the 1950s, while the rest of Prague's Baroque churches were left to crumble. The church tower also made a favourite spy roost for teams of secret police.