The church of the Virgin Mary Angelic is a simple single-aisle religious building, is situated in the lower part of Loretánské Square in Hradčany. It is a part of the capuchins’ monastery complex. This is the oldest building complex of the Order of Capuchins in the Czech Republic. It has been more than 400 years since its foundation. In that time 12 members of the Order of Capuchins came to Bohemia from Italy led by Laurence from Brindisi (later canonized).
The church and the monastery are popular amongst Prague citizens and visitors for their unique Nativity scene from 1780, which includes 43 life size figures. Unknown even today, a member of the order spent 10 years creating it.
The foundation stone of the church was laid on 23rd May 1600 and the construction was completed by 7th July 1601. In line with the Order’s regulations a simple sanctuary had been created here with rectangular aisle and oblong sacrarium. The aisle has square chapels situated at its sides. The monastery was being built at the same time as the church. The complex is connected with the neighbouring Loretta by a corridor bridge. The church was damaged in 1757 by Prussian gunnery during the siege of Prague. In memory of this event the cannonballs were moulded into the outside wall.
The dominant feature of this church and of the whole complex is the steeple situated on the aisle roof. The steeple has a square ground plan and it is divided by a distinctive cornice into two parts. Above the cornice there are arched windows, covered with sun-blinds. The roof of the tower is pyramidal and crowned with spire and finial. The steeple houses a bell made in 1714 by bell-founder, Mikuláš Löwa from Prague.Praha
Snow-white building of the Baroque Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (In Czech: Bazilika Nanebevzetí Panny Marie) is one of highlights of the Strahov Monastery complex and also one of the most important Catholic churches in Prague.
The Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary was originally a Romanesque basilica from the second half of the 12th century. Later it was reconstructed several times (in 1601 and in 1627 to a Renaissance style). The church gained its distinctive Baroque look in the second half of the 18th century, when it was also extended. The remains of St. Norbert were brought from Magdeburg and buried here in 1627. The Saint was then pronounced a Patron of Bohemia.
The new Baroque forefront and the steeples of 50.5 m high were built in 1743-1751 by the designs of architect Anselmo Lurago. The steeples were given Baroque bulbous cupolas with lanterns and finials and were topped by tall spires. The Basilica’s interior is beautifully decorated with frescoes by Silesian Baroque painter Jerzy Wilhelm Neunhertz (1774), with the motif of the blessed Virgin Mary and scenes from St. Norbert’s life. Worth mentioning are also the altar of marble from Slivenec, the work of František Lauermann from 1768, the sculptures by Ignác Platzer (1768) and the organ where Mozart played during his visit of the Strahov Monastery in 1787.
It’s virtually impossible to overlook the two tall and slim towers of the Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on the Western Prague’s skyline. From the distance the towers represent not only this sanctuary but also the whole complex of the Royal Canon of Premonstratensians at Strahov (Strahov Monastery).
St. George’s Basilica is the oldest church building within the Prague Castle complex. It is also the best-preserved Romanesque church in Prague.
St. George’s Basilica was founded by Prince Vratislav (915-921) in 920. The basilica was then enlarged in 973 with the construction of St. George’s Benedictine Convent.
In 1142 St. George’s Basilica had to be rebuilt following a fire. And the Baroque facade that we see today was added in 1671-1691.
Its ceiling is made of a deep, dark wood, its height accentuated by the fairly narrow width of the church. Decorative windows in the stone walls provide atmospheric lighting. The overall effect is very old world.
The altar painting and frescos in the dome are the work of V.V. Reiner.
Within the church lie several tombs of major historic importance. In the Gothic Chapel of St. Ludmila lies the tomb of St. Ludmila, the saint and widow of the 9th century ruler Prince Borivoj. Also buried in the basilica are Prince Vratislav and Boleslav II.
Prague Loreta is a holy shrine, called after the place in Italy, where the Casa Santa (Holy House) is situated. According to a legend, it is a house, where Virgin Mary used to live in Nazareth and it was brought to Italy by angels in 13 th century. Many holy shrines were built according to it around Europe, and Prague Loreta Shrine in the Castle District is one of them. It is a Marian pilgrimage place.
Prague Loreta was inspired by the Casa Santa built in Mikulov. Countess Katerina Benigna of Lobkowicz admired it so much, that she had the Loreta Shrine built in Prague. It was built by Giovanni Battista Orsi and finished by Andrea Allio. The shrine was consecrated in 1631.
The Casa Santa in Prague Loreta is situated in the middle of a courtyard, surrounded by six chapels. There is a statue of Virgin Mary from 1620s inside.
In the Chapel of the Grievous Virgin Mary, there is a painting depicting crucifixion of St. Starosta (St. Liberata). She was allegedly a daughter of a Portuguese king and she refused to marry a heathen king of Sicily. She prayed to God for help and God made her look like a man with a beard. Her angry father crucified her for it.
The Church of Nativity, made by enlarging the middle chapel, is decorated with fresco painting by V. V. Reiner from 1738.
Prague Loreta Shrine has a big tower from 1693 with a famous chime. It was made in Amsterdam in 1694 and given to the shrine by Prague tradesman Eberhard of Glauchov. It has 27 bells, which don´t move, they ring when a musician plays on the fingerboard. It plays the song We Greet Thee a Thousand Times automatically every hour from 8 am to 6 pm.
Legend about the chime
There is a legend about the Loreta chime. It says that a poor woman used to live in the New World by the Prague Castle, and she had many children. Because of a plague, the children started dying one after another and their mother always paid a death knell for them. After all the children had died, she became ill as well. She had no money anymore and she thought, that nobody will even pay a death knell for her. At that moment, all the Loreta bells started ringing at once, and the woman died in peace.
There is a treasure in the Loreta shrine. It consists of monstrances, cups, altars and other votive objects. Most of them are from 17 th and 18 th century. The treasure is kept in the Treasure Room in the ground floor. The most interesting item is the Diamond Monstrance called “Prague Sun”. It is a gift from Countess Ludmila of Kolowrat, who got more than six thousand diamonds as a wedding gift from her third husband. In her last will she wrote, that a monstrance for Loreta should be made of these diamonds. The Diamond Monstrance was made in 1699. The oldest item of the Loreta Treasure is a Gothic cup from 1510.
Built at the behest of Carmelite sisters and completed in 1692, surprisingly not much is known about this mysterious little church situated a stone’s throw from the Charles Bridge in charming Mala Strana, or Lesser Town.
Experts are unable to agree on the architect responsible for this little gem, which is rather unusual in Prague where many famous architects have showcased their talent over the centuries.
Far more is known about the stunning art found at the church, including the facade statues by the artist Matěj Václav Jäckel, who is also famous for his contribution of several statues on nearby Charles Bridge, as well as numerous decorative contributions to various sites in Český Krumlov, Kutná Hora, and other places both in Prague and elsewhere across the Bohemian region.
The nave of the church is a rounded, slightly oval in shape, rotunda with a dome supported by 12 pillars surmounted by beautiful capitals, which can come as a surprise given the squared exterior shape of the church, and the side altars are set into shallow recesses around the sides of the rotunda.
The interior boasts a main altar, an altar of St. Theresa of Avila, and an altar of St. Thecla, the first female martyr of the Christian church, all dating from around 1695- 1699, the same time period as Jäckel’s facade statues. The striking picture of St. Theresa, as well the picture of the Holy Family above the main altar are the work of Petr Brandl. Other notable side altars include the later altars of St. Anne and of the Bohemian St. John of Nepomuk, which are by an unknown artist from 1735. The gilded pulpit is from the end of the 18th century.
This intimate church is home to the francophone Roman Catholics in Prague, as well as the Carmelite sisters who first built the church.
The highest church in Prague, with 34 metres high vault, Our Lady of the Snows was supposed to be the second largest religious monument in the kingdom, right after the St Vitus Cathedral. It was never completed on that scale. Still, it is very large and it may also pride itself on the largest- 29 metres high- altar in the capital. It is also known for its tombs, where many important Czechs rest.
This church’s unusual name has, since it was founded in 1397, always been explained by the following story. In the 4th century, Virgin Mary has appeared in a Roman merchant’s dream and told him to build a temple on the place where snow will lie the following morning. The merchant was confused, since it was in the middle of hot summer. Still, as he woke up in the morning, he found the Esquilinum hill covered in snow. Following the request, he had the Church of St Maria Maggiore built on the site. The famous altar of Our Lady of the Snows carries a painting which relates to the legend.
Since 1397 up until 1542, the church belonged to the Carmelitan order. At the beginning of the 15th century, it was the place where Jan Zelivsky used to preach. One of the spiritual leaders of this Czech reformation movement was also buried on these premises after being executed in 1422. As the movement disintegrated into bloody chaos (there’s quite a debate about this in Czech Republic), local monks were, as in many other monasteries, slaughtered and the building damaged.
Its decline slowly went on until the year Carmelitans left for financial reasons. The building was taken over by the Franciscans. Neither they could afford expensive repairs. The church was falling apart, until finally reconstructed at the beginning of the 17th century, thanks to generous donations. It is a cruel irony that one of the major donors, Marshall Russworm, was to be buried in the tomb of the church only a year after he helped it get back on its feet- after being executed for alleged murder.
Unlike many other churches and monasteries, this one survived the times of Josef II, the anti- clerical reformer, who reigned toward the end of the 18th Century. It was closed down in 1950 by the Communist regime and re- opened more than forty years later.
The Strahov Monastery (Strahovsky Klaster) started its long itinerary through history with establishment of the Premonstratensians, a religious order of canons founded in 1120 by St Norbert as an independent part of the Catholic church.
By the year 1182 a Romanesque stone monastery was built on the place of an older foundation of Prince Vladislav II (from 1140). It’s peace was disturbed by a fire in 1258, when the church was destroyed almost totally. A reconstruction in the Gothic style followed, but that was not to last either, as Baroque retouches were added during the beginning of the 18th century.
In the meanwhile the abbey was plundered first by the Hussites and during the Thirty Years’ War by a regiment of the Swedish army. The last but not least hit that the abbey had to take was the bombardment of the church’s premises by the French, in 1742. After the Communist regime ended, the abbey was returned to the Premonstratensians in 1989.
The Strahov Monastery it is not only an active place of pilgrimage but also a valuable museum and a famous library, still holding an unbelievable number of rare volumes.
Places of interest in Strahov Monastery:
The Basilica of Our Lady, now dedicated to St. Norbert, the patron of Premonstratensians. The basilica is very beautifully decorated with frescoes by Neunhertz (1774), with the motif of the blessed Virgin Mary and scenes from the life of St. Norbert. Worth mentioning are also the altar of marble from Slivenec, the work of Lauermann from 1768, the sculptures by Ignác Platzer (1768) and the organ where Mozart played during his visit of the Strahov Monastery in 1787.
The Theological Hall, completed in 1679 under Abbot Jeroným Hirnhaim, It now stores more than 18,000 volumes. This hall’s name comes from the fact that is contains numerous editions of the Bible or parts of the Bible in many languages.
The Cabinet of Curiosities, brought to Strahov from the estate of Karel Jan Erben in 1798. It now houses natural science collections, mainly with sea fauna, complemented with collections of insects, minerals, and wax replicas of fruit, archaeological collections: ceramics, handcuffs, Hussite peasant weapons. A very appreciated curiosity is the remains of a Dodo bird (Dodo ineptus), now extinct.
The Philosophical Hall, built in 1782, under Abbot Václav Mayer. It contains an impressive number of more than 42,000 volumes covering themes from philosophy, astronomy, mathematics, history, philology.Prague
The chapel, a simple Mannerist oval-shaped building with a dome, was built in 1590-97 by D. Bossi based on a plan by O. Mascarino for the Italians settled in Prague (hence the name Italian Chapel).
Elliptical floor plan speaks of a great shift in thinking at that time – moving away from the rational Renaissance way of thinking which was reflected in round floor plans of Renaissance buildings into more sensual ways of thinking embraced by the Baroque style, symbolized by the more dynamic ellipse which looks different from each angle; thanks to this symbolism the Italian Chapel is one of the most important Renaissance buildings in Europe.
The interior is furbished in Baroque style. The entrance porticus is by F. M. Kaňka (1715) with a beautiful wrought gate is also an entrance to the neighouring church of St. Clement. Exhibitions and concerts take place in the chapel.
To the north of the square is Letenská Street where you will see the Church of St. Thomas. This beautiful ancient church with a monastery has been standing in Lesser Town for almost 800 years.
The church was established for the Order of the Augustinian hermits by King Wenceslas II. The original Gothic church was rebuilt during 1727 to 1731. Designed by the famous architect K. I. Dientzenhofer, the church gained its present Baroque appearance.
Today little remains of its Gothic origins apart from the sphire. The ceiling is covered in frescoes by Václav Reiner depicting the life of St Augustine and, in the dome, the legend of St. Thomas. Incredibly, Reiner completed the work in just two years.
Impressive interiors are decorated with sculptures by F. M. Brokof and a stunning main altar dating from 1731. Paintings, in fact copies, of St. Thomas and St. Augustine over the high altar were commissioned from Rubens. Originals can be seen in Sternberg Palace.
The skeleton of the martyr St. Just resting in a glass coffin is also worth seeing. This monastery used to brew beer until the year 1951, when it was closed.
The impressive frontage of the St. Salvator Church one from dominants of the Knights of the Cross Square near the Charles Bridge in Prague. The church was built by Jesuit Order between 1578-1582 and finished by Carlo Lurago in the 17th century.
The Church of St. Salvator prides itself with a beautiful Baroque facia, which faces the Križovnické (Knights of the Cross) Square. The church’s porticos as well as the top of its tympanum are decorated with sand-stone sculptures of saints made by Jan Jirí Bendl. The wall niche in the centre of portal houses a sculpture of the Virgin Mary.
The three-aisle building with a dome and galleries is part of the Jesuits College – The Klementinum complex. It stands in the area of the former Dominican church of St. Bartholomew. The original Gothic church almost disappeared as it was partly taken down and partly adapted to a new building. The reconstruction started before 1578 and the first service was given in 1582. The church was however was not completed until as late as 1602. At that time it did not have a dome or galleries. These were only built during the early-Baroque reconstruction in 1649-1654, when the side aisles were being raised to include another floor. At the same time the dome was built above the cross aisle, which brightened up the church interior. The porticos with loggia (from architect Carlo Lurago) in front of the main entrance were built in 1654. The porticos have four pillars, which form three arcades. The church is currently considered one of the most valuable early-Baroque architectures in Prague.
The last big construction works were carried out when the two tall steeples (peak-baroque style) were being built at the east end of the church (of a project by architect František Maxmilián Kanka). Both steeples are 43 m in height with a richly articulated facade with corner pilasters and cornices. The steeples are illumined through large arched windows on the highest floor. The roofs are made of bulbous domes with lantern and finial.