We have selected 14 spiritual places in the Czech Republic for you. In each region, you will find a chapel, basilica, or other place of pilgrimage. Throughout all these places, you will be accompanied by ancient stories, which still speak to anyone looking for inspiration in the past.
Břevnov Monastery near Prague Castle (Pražský hrad)The first male monastery in Bohemia still serves the Benedictine order. The extensive monastery complex was founded in 993. Břevnov, atop a hill above Prague, has been an important spiritual and cultural centre for centuries. Its architecture is also unique. At the beginning of the 18th century, the monastery complex was rebuilt in the Baroque style according to the plans of Kryštof Dientzenhofer. The dominant feature of the area is the Baroque Basilica of St Margaret (Bazilika svaté Markéty). Religious life in the monastery continued until the middle of the 20th century; in the 1950s the monks were deported, and monastic life was not restored until 1989. At the beginning of the 1990s, Břevnov Abbey was promoted by Pope John Paul II. to an archdiocese. Excursions to the Baroque basilica or to the Romanesque crypt are conducted for the public.
Dress for Svatohorská Madona (Holy Madonna)The mining town of Příbram is located in the Central Bohemian region, about an hour from Prague. The first mention of silver mining comes from the 12th century. Here, you will not only find a mining museum, but also an important place of pilgrimage. Above the town is Svatá Hora (Holy Mountain), where the Jesuits came in the 17th century. They built the basilica with the Chapel of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which is home to a unique silver altar and a statuette of the Virgin Mary of Mount Athos. Like the Infant Jesus of Prague (Pražské Jezulátko), this half-metre-long statuette of the Madonna has a rich wardrobe, which changes regularly according to the liturgical period. Dresses for the Virgin Mary are sent by believers from all over the world. Some were donated by Maria Theresa and are said to be made from her wedding dress. The interest of pilgrims in visiting the place of pilgrimage increased after the coronation of the Holy Madonna on 22 June 1732. The anniversary of this important event is always celebrated on the third Sunday after Pentecost.
Tovaryšův sen v Chlumu svaté Máří (Journeyman’s dream in St Mary’s Chlum)Church and complex of buildings of the former monastery belong to the most important Baroque monuments of the Czech Republic. The first mention of a mysterious place in the Karlovy Vary region in western Bohemia, not far from the border with Germany, dates back to 1341. Legend has it that a journeyman butcher was resting under a walnut tree when he saw a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary with child. The journeyman had a wooden chapel built under a hazel bush to symbolise this miraculous place. Crowds of pilgrims began to flow to the Madonna z Ořeší, and Chlum became the pilgrimage centre of the entire region. In the 17th century, a new complex was built, including the church, which was designed by Kryštof Dienzenhofer. However, since the early 1990s, the complex has undergone costly renovation and is not open to the public.
Remembrance of Jerusalem in KadaňThe medieval pilgrimage Franciscan monastery in the town of Kadaň in the Ústí nad Labem region near the German border has been the centre of attention of monarchs and diplomats, artists and pilgrims for more than half a millennium. One of its first donors, Jan Hasištejnský of Lobkowicz, conceived the building as an imitation of holy places in Jerusalem, which he visited during the holy pilgrimage. Members of the Franciscan-Observant Order were entrusted with the spiritual administration of the monastery. In the interior you will see paintings that faithfully imitate the work of the important German Renaissance painter Lucas Cranach Sr., which is completely unique in the Czech Republic. The town of Kadaň in the Ústí nad Labem region has for several years strived to register the monastery complex on the UNESCO list of monuments. The complex also includes a church, which was consecrated again in 1995, and spiritual life returned to the monastery. In addition to the monastery itself, you can also visit the Franciscan Gardens.
A fragile rarity in the Church of St VintírThe Baroque Church of St Vintír in the town of Dobrá Voda in the Plzeň region is the only sacral building in the world dedicated to this German hermit and diplomat who connected the German and Czech nations. Vintíř was born around 955 in an aristocratic family in Thuringia and is said to have lived a very tumultuous life. At the age of forty-five, he first encountered the teachings of the Benedictines and decided to join the order. He distributed his property and became a monk. After years of monastic and hermit life, he left Germany for Bohemia, where he built a new hermitage on a rock cliff near Dobrá Voda. Vintíř was also involved in politics. He made friends with the Czech prince Oldřich and other Czech nobles. Thanks to him, peace was made between Prince Břetislav and Emperor Henry III. The church has a five-metre-wide glass altar and a glass Stations of the Cross, which is second to none in Europe. The author is the glass artist Vladěna Tesařová, who lives in Dobrá Voda. The material used represents the long tradition of glassmaking in the Šumava region.
Sign of death in front of the Church of the Holy BaptistThe town of Blatná in the South Bohemian region primarily attracts tourists due to the renovated château, which belongs to the Hildprandt family. Two kilometres from the city is the small village of Paštiky, where the Church of St Baptist from the 18th century stands, built according to the plans of the Baroque master Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer. Above the entrance to the church there are two stone sculptures in the shape of a human skull, which are called Paštická Smrt (Paštická Death). The cemetery chapel is also built according to Dientzenhofer's plans, under which there is a crypt. In the middle of the 19th century, this chapel was converted into a family tomb of the Hildprandt family, owners of the Blatná Château.
Tribute to the selfless noblewoman in the Basilica of St Lawrence and St ZdislavaThe place of pilgrimage in the town of Jablonné v Podještědí in the Liberec region refers to the story of the Czech noblewoman Zdislava, who lived in the 13th century. She married Mr Havel of Lemberk. She was not only a loving wife and dedicated mother of four, but together with her husband she built a church, a monastery and a hospital, in which she cared for the sick and healed them. Her dedication and help to others fascinate pilgrims to this day. The Marian-Zdislav Rococo altar, on which the late Gothic Madonna and the reliquary of St Zdislava stand, enjoys much popularity. This year, the 800 year anniversary of Zdislava's birth are being celebrated, the main celebrations for which will be on 1 and 29 May 2021.
Grateful burgher at the Church of the Holy Trinity (Křemešník)The silver mines at the foot of Křemešník Hill in the Vysočina region were not only a local source of precious metal in the Middle Ages, but also contributed to the establishment of the church. When Matouš Chejstovský, a burgher from Pelhřimov, allegedly fled from robbers in 1555, he fell into an old, abandoned shaft. As a reward for his rescue, he had a wooden chapel built on the site, which soon became a sought-after place of pilgrimage. In the 18th century, the church was rebuilt to its current form.
Roman inspiration on Hora Matky Boží (Mountain of the Mother of God)The Marian pilgrimage site Hora Matky Boží is located above the town of Králíky in the current Pardubice region near the state border with Poland. The first mention of the city comes from the 14th century. Tobias Jan Becker, a native of Králice, who was the bishop of Hradec Králové, founded a monumental pilgrimage complex. The Image of Love of Our Lady of the Snows is located on the main altar. Since then, the mountain has come to be called the "Mountain of the Mother of God." It is a copy of a painting from the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. After the completion of the church, the construction of a monastery began. In the 19th century, the church and the monastery burned down. Baroque paintings and carvings, which can be seen in the monastery cloister, were saved.
The second life of the church in NeratovNeratov, in the Hradec Králové region, became a place of pilgrimage in 1661 thanks to a miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary and a healing spring that sprang at the church. In the 18th century, the church was rebuilt in the Baroque style. Experts attribute it to the circuit around Giovanni Battista Alliprandi. After World War II, almost the entire church burned down, and the inhabitants of Neratov were displaced. The village and cathedral fell into disrepair for decades. The fundamental changes were initiated by the parish priest Josef Suchár, who first came to Neratov in 1987. He was fascinated by an empty church without a roof in the middle of the woods and decided to restore it. Already in 1990, on the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, the first pilgrimage took place in the meadow in front of the church. In 1992, the church was declared a cultural monument. Over the last 20 years, several repairs have been made, one of the most interesting being the partial roofing of the cathedral with a glass roof to maintain the original connection with the sky. Services are regularly held in the church, and it is often used for weddings, christenings and other sacraments.
The magic of melodies in the Church of the Name of the Virgin MaryAccording to an old narrative, Saints Cyril and Methodius and their disciples were baptised in the local valley in the South Moravian region. Hence the ancient name: Vallis baptismi – Valley of Baptism or Christening (in Czech: Křtiny). The village experienced its greatest prosperity in the 18th century when a Baroque sanctuary was built here according to the design of the architect Jan Blažej Santini Aichl. Also interesting is the local carillon (an idiophone percussion instrument) in the courtyard of the church, which can play hundreds of melodies. It consists of 27 bells and is one of the largest in Central Europe. There is another peculiarity in the village of Křtiny. There is an ossuary (resting place of human skeletal remains) in the basement of the church. The greatest attraction of the baptismal ossuary was the discovery of twelve human skulls, which are marked with a black drawing in the shape of a laurel wreath and a symbol in the form of the letter T on the forehead.
Artistic symbiosis on Svatý Kopeček (Holy Hill)The city of Olomouc has been an important spiritual place of the Olomouc region in Moravia for centuries. Take a look at the Gothic St Wenceslas Cathedral in the grounds of Olomouc Castle. Also head to the Archdiocesan Museum, where you can admire works of art from the collections of the Olomouc bishops and archbishops. Another important sacral place is the Basilica on Svatý Kopeček, which is seven kilometres from the centre of Olomouc.
With its location, architecture and artistic decoration, the church ranks as one of the most successful Baroque buildings. It is a masterpiece of artists and craftsmen from Moravia, but also from abroad. The rich decoration of the cathedral was created in the 17th century by the Italian masters Quirich Castelli or Matteo Contessa. The vault of the nave was made in the same period by the same masters. The ancient pilgrimage site on the Holy Hill was visited by Pope John Paul II. and Mother Teresa.
Moravian Nativity Scene in VelehradVelehrad, in the Zlín region, is one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Moravia. Its history began more than 800 years ago, when the first 12 Cistercian monks came to the valley of the Salaška River to build a monastery near the village of Veligrad (today's Old Town). Due to its location, the monastery got its name and soon became the bearer of a much older spiritual tradition, which dates back to the 9th century when the Slavic missionaries Constantine and Methodius came to Moravia.
Velehrad was called the Moravian Bethlehem because it symbolised the birthplace of the Christian faith of the Slavs. The heart of the pilgrimage site of Velehrad is the Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and Sts Cyril and Methodius. Originally a late Romanesque building from the first third of the 13th century, it acquired a Baroque appearance as a result of war disasters and especially a fire in 1681. In the richly decorated basilica is the chapel of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christian Unity, with the Palladium of Velehrad. Thousands of pilgrims flock to Velehrad every year, and in 1990 Pope John Paul II visited this significant place of Christian tradition.