Monasteries in Czech Republic

Strahov Monastery

After his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1138, Bishop of Olomouc Jindrich Zdík had the idea of establishing a monastery of canons regular in Prague. With assistance from the Prague rulers and bishops, a monastery was set up in a place called Strahov, but failed to prosper. It was not until 1143, when Premonstratensians from their house od Steinfeld in the Rhineland arrived in Strahov, that the life of the monastic ...
Founded: 1143 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Minorite Monastery

Minorite Monastery in Český Krumlov (officially Monastery of the Order of the Knights of the Cross with a Red Star) was founded in 1350 by Peter I of Rosenberg and his wife Kateřina as a common monastery of Minorites and Clare nuns, with a common church. From the end of the 14th century, the complex also included a house for pious laic women, called beguines. The stay of the Clare nuns was brought to an e ...
Founded: 1350 | Location: Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Dominican Monastery

Dominican Monastery is the oldest gothic monument in České Budějovice. It consists of Church of Presentation of Virgin Mary and town fortifications. Today, the monastery belongs to the cultural heritage of the Czech Republic and there is placed the Artistic school. The Dominican monastery in České Budějovice with the well-preserved Gothic cloister was built at the same time as the city. ...
Founded: c. 1260 | Location: České Budějovice, Czech Republic

Emmaus Monastery

The Emmaus monastery is an abbey established in 1347 in Prague. The area became the only Benedictine monastery of the Bohemian kingdom and all Slavic Europe. In the 1360s, the Cloisters of the Monastery were decorated with a cycle of 85 wall Gothic paintings with parallels from the Old and New Testaments. The Gothic cloisters also feature original faded frescoes with bits of Pagan symbolism from the 14th century. The mon ...
Founded: 1347 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Brevnov Monastery

Břevnov Monastery is a Benedictine archabbey founded by Saint Adalbert, the second Bishop of Prague, in 993 AD with the support of Duke Boleslav II of Bohemia. Hence the first Benedictine male monastery in Bohemia, it also has the oldest tradition of beer brewing in the Czech Republic, up to today, the Břevnovský Benedict beer is brewed here. The first monks descended form Niederaltaich Abbey in Bavaria, ...
Founded: 993 AD | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Doksany Monastery

The Doksany town is well-known mainly for its monastery established probably already in 1144 by Vladislav II. The heyday of the monastery was in the 13th and 14th centuries. It was completely desolated during the Thirty Years’ War. After that it was rebuilt into the Baroque appearance in 17th century. During the 19th century the monastery became a chateau. Doksany Monastery has been used to film BBC"s The Muskete ...
Founded: 1144 | Location: Doksany, Czech Republic

Dominican Monastery

The Dominican Monastery in Ústí nad Labem was founded in 1186. The church was remodelled in Baroque style in 1718-1722 during extensive reconstruction designed by Litoměřice architect Octavio Broggio. At the wish of the Prior of Ústí, he based his design of the St Adalbert Church on the model of the Prague Church of St Ursula. Under the communist regime it was used for storage and later on, whitewashed and stripped ...
Founded: 1186 | Location: Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic

Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Nicholas

The Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Nicholas has been since its foundation part of the Cistercian monastery in Žďár nad Sázavou. The Cistercian monastery existed after 1250 thanks to magnate of Křižanov whose name was Přibyslav. Early history of the monastery was described in Cronica domus Sarensis by monk Jindřich Řezbář. The chronicle was written in Latin and it is part of the top middle-age li ...
Founded: 1250 | Location: Zdár nad Sázavou, Czech Republic

St. Catherine's Monastery

The former Ursuline Convent has been well-preserved, with the interior especially having almost no subsequent modifications. The current monastery complex was rebuilt from the original Renaissance building, whose remains are still partly preserved in the brickwork, after the great fire of 1709. The monastery was built in the Baroque period as a two-storied yet unfinished building complex around two central courtyards. The ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Olomouc, Czech Republic

Osek Monastery

The Cistercian Osek monastery was founded in 1191. It was invaded by armies, plundered by the Branibors, and burnt down by the Hussites. In the 15th century it was damaged, the monks were murdered and the property was taken away. Rudolf II abolished it in 1580, however, the Pope invalidated this decision. The manor was confiscated during the Thirty Years War, but the monastery was given back to the Cistercians later. It ...
Founded: 1191 | Location: Osek, Czech Republic

Hradisko Monastery

Hradisko Monastery was originally a Benedictine monastery, from the mid-12th century a premonstratensian monastery in Olomouc. It was established in 1078 and it serves as an military hospital since 1802. The four-winged building with a rectangular platform, with corner towers and a moat, is divided by an inner lateral wing into two parts - the convent and the prelature. While the northern part of the monastery was built ...
Founded: 1078 | Location: Olomouc, Czech Republic

Kadan Franciscan Monastery

The Franciscan Monastery lies on the edge of the town of Kadaň, near the river Ohře. The first building on the site was a moderate holy shrine first mentioned in 1469. At Easter 1473 Franciscan Order assumed the shrine and with the support of Kadaň inhabitants and the House of Vitzhum built a temporary Convent house around it with the view of building a stone monastery. The Order experienced a bloom and expa ...
Founded: 1473-1500 | Location: Kadaň, Czech Republic

Chotesov Abbey

Chotěšov Abbey is a former Premonstratensian nunnery founded between 1202 and 1210 by the Blessed Hroznata and settled by nuns from Doksany Abbey. The new foundation soon acquired wealth and influence, to the envy of the surrounding lordships and territories. In 1421, during the Hussite Wars the nunnery was occupied and destroyed by a Hussite army under Jan Žižka. During the Thirty Years' War, in 1618, the ...
Founded: 1202 | Location: Chotěšov, Czech Republic

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.