Of particular architectural interest in the church, founded by Charles IV in a picturesque corner of the Nusle valley directly opposite Vyšehrad, is its star vaulting. The vaulting is 24 meters wide, while the arches themselves are only 20 cm thick and rest on walls that are less than 1 meter thick. Other interesting attractions of the church are a copy of the Holy Steps and the Bethlehem Cave with the Holy Family. It is the oldest Nativity scene in Prague churches.
REGULAR ROMAN CATHOLIC MASSES:
- Sunday: 9.30, 17.00
Tours for groups daily except Sundays on phone order.
Park is open from 6.00 to 19.00 (summer time), from 6.00 to 18.00 (winter time)
- Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and St. Charles the Great (Kostel Nanebevzetí Panny Marie a sv. Karla Velikého na Karlově)
- Ke Karlovu
- 120 00 Praha 2
The church was promoted by Emperor Charles IV in 1350 as part of the Augustinian Monastery in the newly established New Town. The model for the church was the cathedral in Aachen where Charlemagne is buried. Only the original Gothic stone cladding has survived to the present day.
Construction work continued all the way up until the late Renaissance.
The church is unique for its star-ribbed vaulting, probably constructed by Bonifaz Wohlmut, the master builder of Emperor Ferdinand I's court. It was completed in 1575, as reported on the inscription on the keystone in the centre of the vault.
Legend has it that the architect made a deal with the devil in order to craft such a fine vault. After it was finished, no one was willing to remove the scaffolding. The master builder set the scaffolding on fire and when the burning wooden beams came crashing down, he thought the vaulting had been ruined. Out of despair, he leapt into the Vltava River. After the dust settled and the smoke cleared, the beautiful, strong vaulting showed it had remained intact.
At the beginning of the 18th century, J. A. Santini added Holy Stairs on the southern side of the church. A cave called Bethlehem Chapel is located underneath the stairs. Colour trompe-l'œil stucco and paintings depicting a dilapidated hermitage cover the walls and archway.
The octagonal church features three characteristic cupolas which were completed in the Baroque style in 1756. Each cupola is topped with a lantern, dome and spire.
The Gothic interior has been preserved in the presbytery and the windows, but rich Baroque adornment designed by architect Franciscus Maxmilian Kaňka dominates the entire church. It also contains the oldest preserved nativity scene in Prague. The three life-size polychrome figures of Jesus in the manger, the Virgin Mary and Joseph date back to 1738 and were created by Johann Georg Schlansowsky.
The church belongs to the Roman Catholic Church.