The Notre-Dame du Kreisker chapel is a former Roman Catholic chapel. With its 78 meters rising up in the sky, the church tower is the highest in Brittany. The word Kreisker means the downtown. Built in 14th and 15th centuries on the site of an ancient place of worship, it’s one of the major works of Breton religious architecture and a testimony of the flourishing economy of the town in 15th century with the highest (78 m) and most audacious belfry in Brittany. An essential coastal landmark for navigation, it was for that reason restored and thus saved from destruction on Napoleon’s order in 1807.
The origin of the chapel goes back to the 6th century. A young linen maid who had worked on a holiday in the honour of the Virgin, despite Saint Kirec disapproval became suddenly completely paralysed. After her repentance the Saint healed her and she gave him her house to be converted into a chapel. The chapel was called 'Kreis-Ker' because it was located in the middle of a village, in the inner suburb of St Pol de Léon. It is likely that the first chapel was made of wood and it must not have withstood the ravages of the Normans in the 9th century.
The tradition related that the English after having burnt the town in 1375, have rebuilt the Kreisker. Some architectural features such as the 'perpendicular style' at the base of the tower are the obvious sign of an influence from across the Channel. Settled on a long-term basis in St Pol de Léon after the war of succession of Brittany, the English could, indeed, convert the tower into a look-out post turned towards the sea and the surrounding countryside. A guard room in the north porch is a virtually intact example of a conventional accommodation at the end of the 14th century.
In the 15th century, after the departure of the English, the tower was crowned by a superb spire and the edifice was slightly modified. The steeple has been saved from demolition by Napoléon in 1807 thanks to its usefulness for navigation. Throughout the middle ages util the Revolution, the city council used the Kreisker as assembly room.
Still today, the chapel and its tower applies a powerful presence on the city. Norman and British influences are visible on the architecture of this classified historic monument.
From the balustrade that can be accessed by a staircase of 169 steps, one can enjoy a splendid and awesome panorama. The church tower can be accessed in July and August to allow the viewer to enjoy the view on all the region from its top railing.References:
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.