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Monasteries and pilgrimage sites in the CR – part 1 – significant Prague monasteries

photo: náměstí Sv. Jiří s bazilikou (czechtourism.com)

The territory of the Czech Republic, a country with long Christian traditions, is literally interlaced with religious monuments. Many of them are monasteries and pilgrimage sites. This time, we will focus on Prague monasteries and briefly introduce them.

Christian monasteries were founded in Europe from the 3rd to 5th century and from the 10th century on the territory of the future Czech Republic. At first, there were rich monasteries in the country (e.g. Benedictine, Cistercian, etc.), which were constructed along with fortifications and agricultural buildings freely in the surroundings. Later, these were joined by city monasteries, which were founded mainly by the so-called mendicant orders (Dominicans, Franciscans) without any agricultural buildings, and often in the poorer parts of the cities at the peripheries or outside the city walls.

Best known monasteries in the Czech Republic:

Significant Prague monasteries
There are many important monastery complexes in Prague, which now function either as classical monasteries or have an entirely secular purpose. 

The female Benedictine Monastery and St George Church at Prague Castle (Map) comes from 973 and is considered the oldest monastery on the territory of the Czech Republic. The unmarried daughters of kings and other significant personalities lived in the monastery. In the time of the Hussite Wars, the monastery was temporarily abandoned and finally cancelled and rebuilt into barracks by Joseph II in 1782. From 1969 to 1975, it was refurbished in order to host an exhibition of old Czech art from the National Gallery, which is still present there today.

The Benedictine Břevnov Monastery in Prague is the second oldest Czech monastery. It was founded around 993 and was the first male monastery on the Czech territory. It was plundered during the Hussite Wars and later also during the Thirty Years’ War. After 1990, the monastery was returned to the Benedictine Order and proclaimed a national cultural monument in 1991. It underwent a reconstruction in 2003, when a part of the monastery was rebuilt into a hotel while the other part serves for the purposes of the monk community.

The Premonstratensian Monastery in Strahov (Map) Prague, a national cultural monument founded in 1143, is one of the most significant architectonic monuments of the Czech Republic. The monastery, which was revived after 1990, is also the seat of the Museum of Czech Literature and the monastery includes the famous Strahov Library and Gallery. There are about 75 monks in the monastery today.

You will learn more about other significant monasteries in the following parts of our series.

Author: Romana Kuncová
Added: 02.11.2012

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