Pilgrimage Church of Saint John of Nepomuk

Zdár nad Sázavou, Czech Republic

The Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk is the final work of Jan Santini Aichel, a Bohemian architect who combined the Borrominiesque Baroque with references to Gothic elements in both construction and decoration.

In 1719, when the Roman Catholic Church declared the tongue of John of Nepomuk to be incorruptible, work started to build a church at Zelená hora, where the future saint had received his early education. It was consecrated immediately after John's beatification in 1720, although construction works lumbered on until 1727. Half a century later, after a serious fire, the shape of the roof was altered.

The church, with many furnishings designed by Santini himself, is remarkable for its gothicizing features and complex symbolism, quite unusual for the time. In 1993, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The nomination dossier pointed out Santini's mathematical ratios in its architecture which aimed at 'the creation of an independent spatial reality', with 'the number 5 being dominant in the layout and proportions' of the church.

The central church along with its adjacent cloister is uniformly projected and built structure. Architecture of this building is very minimalistic and enormously effective. It combines Baroque and Gothic elements which in fact points to the age when John of Nepomuk lived, worked and was martyred. The construction of church is based on geometry of circle while constantly repeating number five as a reference to Nepomuk's five stars. Those stars, according to a legend, appeared above his body when he had died.



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Founded: 1719-1727
Category: Religious sites in Czech Republic


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Erzsébet Kovács (3 months ago)
It’s a very special pentangular church. In spite of renovation we can visit inside as well. Worthwhile to visit.
Kristýna Vacardová (5 months ago)
The church itself is stunning and definitely worth a visit, the tour guide was charismatic and knowledgeable too. Too bad the site isn't more adapted to tourists as there isn't even a toilet there.
Rick Williams (5 months ago)
A beautiful old church sitting atop a hill . Sadly has been run down but lots of construction going on to restore it. Makes for a very pleasant walk with nice views all around , up the hill (which is steeper than it looks) around the church yard and back down again. We didn't go inside on a tour as missed the time slot. Worth visiting.
Joe Lobotka (9 months ago)
A church on the top of a little hill combining Baroque and Gothic architectures. Built by Jan Santini Aichel, it is in UNESCO for a good reason - it's picturesque. The courtyard is currently under renovations, but the church and its area is still worth the visit, especially during winter when everything gets covered by snow blanket. It's very easy to get here and you will be able to find multiple free parking spots around the Green Hill (by the chateau or cemetery) only few minutes of walking away. You can also spend some time walking around the lake, relaxing in the park, checking the Žďár n. S. cheateu area, Basil or Baroque bridge on the main road. Highly recommended whether you're passing by or looking for an interesting afternoon walk.
Jana Krištanová (13 months ago)
Since this place is already UNESCO heritage, I was very much surprised that the outside walls are in very bad shape and that there is ongoing reconstruction. The church itself is closed in winter, but you can still go thought the main gate of the complex and walk at the yard. Despite reconstruction, after passing through the main gate, one chapel inside of the outer walls was open and available for visitors, especially those that want to pray - there was a maintained altar. The hill itself and the space outside of the complex offer a nice view at the town and the places around. Be mindful when you plan to arrive by car, though. The parking place at the top of the hill is for 4 cars and that parking place is full of locals getting there by car just to go for a walk with their kids. There are additional parking places under he hill, but then you need to walk a bit on the road for cars. This place was not in Waze at the time when I visited the church. Since this is a church, there is no public toilet for the visitors, so count with that. I recommend to check when the place is open, and plan the trip after the reconstruction is done. Otherwise you see a lot of things from construction side mixed with the church view.
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