Basilica of St. James

Prague, Czech Republic

The Basilica of St. James was built in the 13th century for the Franciscans presbytery. It was built in the Gothic architecture style. The foundation of this church is related to the acquisition of the relics of Ottokar I of Bohemia. The exact location of this original church and it appearance are not known. The church was destroyed in a fire in 1689. The fire is believed to have been started by people working for Louis XIV of France.

The basilica was rebuilt in Baroque architecture style. The rebuilding included the addition of over 20 altars. Artists such as Jan Jiří Heinsch, Václav Vavřinec Reiner, and Petr Brandl created paintings for the altars. In 1702, an organ was installed. In 1974 the church was granted the honorary title of Minor basilica by Pope Paul VI.

The church is the final resting place for Count Vratislav of Mitrovice. He was accidentally buried alive in the tomb. The tomb was created by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. There is also a mummified forearm to the right of the tomb entrance, dating back over 400 years. The arm is the arm of a jewel thief who tried to steal from the high altar, which has a statue of the Virgin Mary. It is believed that when the thief tried to steal the jewels, Mary grabbed his arm and would not let go, therefore his arm was cut off by monks.

The original organ, dating from 1705, is the work of famous Czech organist Abraham Starka of Loket. Over the centuries the organ underwent changes. In 1754 the first reconstruction took place by František Katzer. Again this took place in 1906 by Josef Černý and Josef Rejna. Another intervention took place in 1941. The organ then was adapted for modern composition. The last major reconstruction was carried between 1981-82 where Starka's original sounds were restored, for the most part with the original pipes, and preserved many interesting romantic colours.

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Details

Founded: 17th century
Category: Religious sites in Czech Republic

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Mr B Coates (49 days ago)
Pretty darn impressive, puts modern construction to shame.
Andy Harris (2 months ago)
Wow, truly outstanding artwork, nice to see traditional stations of the cross, well worth a quick visit and it's free
Anna Marie Martinez (3 months ago)
Solemn church in the Old Town, perfect place for prayer and meditation. Tourists must respect that this is a fully functioning place of worship and behave with proper decorum.
Claire Hickman (4 months ago)
Beautiful church, someone playing heavenly music on the organ too. Look out for them arm, almost missed it!
Michael Romero (9 months ago)
I think this is the most beautiful church in Prague. I attended Sunday mass here and they had a beautiful Oregon playing which enhanced the experience. The frescoes and statues that are doing this church or not to be missed also there is a little side chapel in the back which is a very peaceful place for prayer.
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The northern portal is a wonderful example of Gothic sculpture from the Parler workshop, with a relief depicting the Crucifixion. The main entrance is located on the church's western face, through a narrow passage between the houses in front of the church.

The early baroque altarpiece has paintings by Karel Škréta from around 1649. The oldest pipe organ in Prague stands inside this church. The organ was built in 1673 by Heinrich Mundt and is one of the most representative 17th-century organs in Europe.