CHURCH MONUMENTS IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC

The first mention of Christianity in the Czech Lands can be found at the end of the 8th century. However, it was not until 863 that the Prince Rastislav of Great Moravia invited the Greek missionaries Cyril and Methodus to educate the peoples about Christianity. They are remembered by the Czech people as the bringers of Christianity. In the 10th century, Good King Wenceslas was murdered and then canonised as a saint patron of the Czech people of Roman Catholic faith. Other important historical figures that are still carried in the hearts and minds of Czechs today include St. Ludmila (the grandmother of St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert, the second bishop of Prague). From that time we can also recognize a strong cult of Our Lady in the Czech Lands, represented mainly in fine art, culture and architecture. In the Czech galleries there are a lot of original Gothic desk images of Madonna from that time e.g. works by masters of Vyssi Brod, Zbraslav, Trebon, Roudnice and many others. The Gothic period was a time when many gorgeous architectural monuments were born. Among the best known are St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle and St. Barbara in Kutna Hora. During that time, the po wer of the Church grew, as was shown not only by the many churches built in the towns, but also by the numerous monasteries and convents built for educational purposes in the countryside, as well as pilgrimage places devoted mainly to Our Lady. Catholicisms singular hold on the Czech people was weakened by the activities of Master John Hus in the 14th century when he began his efforts to reform the church. The Czech reformation was a painful process carried out mainly by Hussite fighters. During the Hussite wars many pilgrimage places were destroyed and most church monasteries gutted. This Protestant spirit continued to the 17th century when about 90 % of the population were Protestants (among the famous Protestants of that era let us mention John Amos Comenius). After the Battle of White Mountain in 1620, the Jesuit order began spreading Catholicism. The religious places of pilgrimage were renewed, the cult of St. Johan of Nepomuk was established, and monasteries with churches started to rebuild in the mighty Baroque or more radical Baroque Gothic styles. Still today the landscape is marked by that activity: pilgrimage places, stations of the Cross, Baroque small chapels and crosses are scattered throughout the Czech Lands. In the 1880s Emperor Joseph II started to limit the power of the Catholic Church. He abolished monasteries and recognized the existence of other churches. In the 20th century, after two world wars, the Communist regime destroyed and desecrated many church monuments, predominantly monasteries. However, since 1990, many monuments at some stage of renovation have been opened to reveal their uniqueness to the whole world. The historical core of Prague with its numerous of church buildings; Kutna Hora with its Gothic structures; Santinis church on the Green Mountain near Zdar nad Sazavou and Kromerizs gardens have all been included onto the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list.

Following pages contain a list of each regions monuments, with information about the type of monument it is, its interiors and exteriors. The reg ions are not divided in accordance with the official church episcopates. Lastly, our information includes the public opening hours, times of services and dates of pilgrimages. Some monuments are accessible for viewing, but others are only possible to see during services. This information is general and it is better to consult with the administrations of the specific monuments. It is important to mention in the Czech Republic that places are usually closed on Mondays, that the meal break is usually at midday and the last sightseeing tour starts about one hour before the end of the opening hours. The Roman numerals mean the month (I = January, II = February etc.). If some months are not mentioned, it is usually possible for the groups to see the monument after booking and consulting in advance. Further more, it is better to book the tour in advance with the ticket office or its administration during the high season it is necessary. Usually you can ask for a foreign language guide in English or German without difficulty or you can get a brochure in a foreign language while sightseeing. The possibility of no barrier entrance must be discussed with the administration staff at each monument. In this type of venues it is strictly forbidden to take pictures and disturb divine services.

Abbreviations and symbols used in the article ("symbols" in the upper menu):

IM = Monday included, W = only weekends, S = services,

the monument included in the National Cultural Heritage list,

the monument included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list.

For clarity we have printed a brief summary of such names in the article which are different in Czech form, to aid the readers understanding. Other printed materials may use the Czech transcription different from the English one, or, when asking for information from Czech natives, they may be puzzled by the different names of saints or church terms.

Adalbert = Vojtech, Agnes the Czech = Anezka Ceska, All Saints = Vsech Svatych, Annunciation = zvestovani, Anthony = Antonin, Assumption = Nanebevzeti Panny Marie, Bartholomew = Bartolomej, Catherine = Katerina, Charles = Karel, Clare = Klara, church = kostel, Francis = Frantisek, Frederic = Bedrich, George = Jiri, Holy Cross = Svaty Kriz, Holy Spirit = Duch Svaty, James = Jakub, John = Jan, Johan of Nepomuk = Jan Nepomucky, John Baptist = Jan Krtitel, monastery = klaster, Lawrence = Vavrinec, Nativity = zrozeni, Nicholas = Mikulas, Our Lady (Virgin Mary) = Panna Maria, Paul = Pavel, Sacrification = obetovani, St. = sv., Stephen = Stepan, Thomas = Tomas, Ursula = Vorsila, Vitus = Vit, Wenceslas = Vaclav