Church of Our Lady before Týn (Chrám Matky Boží před Týnem)
Church of Our Lady before Týn (Chrám Matky Boží před Týnem) One of the most impressive Gothic religious buildings in Prague, it was built from the mid-14th to the early 16th centuries. At the end of the 17th century, the interior was reworked in Baroque style. The cathedral serves as an extensive gallery of Gothic, Renaissance and Early Baroque works, the most interesting of which include altar paintings by Karel Škréta and the tomb of the astronomer Tycho Brahe. The organ, dating from 1673, is the oldest in Prague.
- voluntary - recommended amount: 25 CZK (1 Euro)
OPEN FOR SIGHTSEEING
- March -November: Tu - Sa: 10.00 - 13.00 and 15.00 - 17.00
- Sightseeing not possible during masses. Guide interpretation about the history of the church possible only outside the church.
- Special tours or reservation of masses for groups only on order. Admission fee for groups depends on the lenght of the tour and the language.
- Entrance to the church through the passage from Staroměstské náměstí 14
wheelchair access from Celetná 5
September - June:
- Tu - Th 18.00
- Fr 15.00
- Sa 8.00
- Su 9.30 and 21.00
- Mo - Fr 12.15
- Sa 8.00
- Su 9.30 and 21.00
As early as in the 11th century, there used to be an older Romanic church in this place. It was a hospital church for foreign merchants coming to Ungelt. In the second half of the 13th century, it was replaced by early-Gothic building, about two-thirds smaller than today’s church. This was where Konrad Waldhauser and Milíč of Kroměříž used to preach their criticism of church morale until their death. The present high-Gothic church was established in the mid-14th century, with a function of the main Old Town church and also a parish church. As the new church was being built, the old church gradually disappeared. The construction was greatly influenced by the royal smelting plant of Matthias of Arras and namely Petr Parléř. Parléř is mostly commemorated by a richly decorated front window, which is 38 m high, traceries of window in the main aisle, the chancel, and the magnificent Northern portal. In the beginning of the 15th century, only the towers, the gable, and the truss were missing. During the Hussite era, the Týn church came under the control of a group of Hus’ followers lead by Jakoubek of Stříbro, and in 1427, the elected Hussite archbishop Jan Rokycana was a parson here, who is also buried here. At the end of the Hussite wars, the building was supposed to get a roof, but the wood needed for the truss was used to build gallows for Roháč of Dubá and his 50 mates, executed by Sigismund on the Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí) after the conquest of the last Hussite bastion, the Sion Castle. The truss was then completed 20 years later from wood originally meant for the construction of ceremonious tribunes for the wedding of Czech king Ladislav Pohrobek (Posthumous) with French princess Magdalene. There was no wedding, Ladislav Pohrobek died. The church was then completed during the reign of Jiří of Poděbrady, elected for the king on the Old Town Hall nearby. During his reign, the main aisle’s gable was built, and also the Northern tower. Upon Jan Rokycana’s suggestion, his statue of the „Hussite king“ was placed on the gable, above which there was a huge gold-plated chalice, the symbol of communion under both kinds. The portrait of the king was replaced by the figure of Madonna by Kašpar Bechteler in 1626, and Madonna’s halo was made from the chalice. The Southern tower is from 1511.
The towers are 80 m high. The Northern tower is called Eve, the Southern (about 1 m taller) is Adam. At that time, they were built from a protruded scaffolding, the bottom plates of which were laid on beams running through holes left in the walls in regular intervals. That allowed for simultaneous work from the outside and from the inside. In 1679, the church burnt down, and the main aisle was subsequently lowered and vaulted in a Baroque style.
The church is a three-aisle basilica with towers by the Western front and with three choirs by each aisle on the Eastern side. The size is respectable: length 52 m, width 28 m, mid-aisle height 44 m, and side aisles are 24 m high.
The church is an extensive gallery of Gothic, Renaissance and early-Baroque pieces of art. Out of the sculptures, the most significant is Parléř’s portal from the Týnská Street from around 1390, decorated by a tympanum with scenes of Christ’s Suffering. The original tympanum is now deposited in the National Gallery. Out of the internal furnishings, there is an outstanding Gothic tin fontal from 1414 (the oldest in Prague), decorated by relief figures of the apostles, a stone Gothic pulpit, two Gothic benches with consoles shaped as crowned heads. There is a late-Gothic canopy by Matěj Rejsek from 1493 between the main aisle and the left side aisle (it was originally above the tomb of Bishop Lucian of Mirandola, who sanctified Calixtine priests).
The main altar with paintings by Karel Škréta (Assumption of Virgin Mary and Holly Trinity) is an example of early-Baroque portal architecture from 1649. Well-known Gothic statue of Madonna with baby Jesus, the so called Madonna of Týn from 1420 is located on a new-Gothic altar by the wall in the right side aisle. The Calvary, the piece done by Master of Týn, the Crucifixion, from the beginning of the 15th century, is located on the Baroque altar at the end of the left side aisle. Fourteen large canvas paintings of the Calvary were painted by František Čermák in 1854. There are 19 altars altogether in the church, made and decorated by the following artists: František Maxmilián Kaňka, Karel Škréta, Jan Jiří Bendl, Josef Hellich, Ferdinand Maxmilián Brokoff, Jan Jiří Heinsch and others. In the beginning of the year 2000, the restorers discovered a rarely preserved Gothic fresco from the end of the 14th century, hidden by one of the altars in the Northern side aisle. It depicts St. Jerome with a lion and the painting’s sponsor.
The organ in this church is the oldest in Prague. It was built by Hans Heinrich Mudt from Germany and his assistants in 1673. The organ was restored in Bonn, Germany, and returned to the church in 2000.
The Týn Church takes pride in having a large number of preserved tombstones. There are about 60 known, some are unknown, others were removed in the past due to new flooring. Among the best known, there is the tombstone of Tycho de Brahe, Danish astronomer on the imperial court of Rudolf II from 1601. Another one is the tombstone of Václav Berka of Dubá, commander and council by the Czech Chamber, who died in 1575. It is one of the most perfect Renaissance portrait tombstones with an unusually detailed portrayal of a man in armour. Legend says that the heart of Jiří of Poděbrady was buried in this church, while his body rests in the tomb of the Bohemian kings at Prague Castle. There is an interesting tombstone of a boy - Šimon Abeles, who left the Jewish religion and wanted to be baptised. His father, however, killed him instead, and then also died by hanging himself. Because he actually died for his religion, he had a pompous funeral with all Prague attending, and he was buried here. In 1631, the heads of twelve of the twenty seven Bohemian lords decapitated on the Old Town Square in 1621 were finally taken down from the humiliating cage on the Old Town bridge tower, and they were buried in Týn. Since then, they have been searched for unsuccessfully many times. There are also lots of children’s tombstones, among others, there is also a mother with six daughters and six sons. Many tombstones are heavily damaged by trampling, as in the past, standing on a tombstone was not considered as a sign of disrespect for the dead. It was believed that it helps against toothache.
From 1973 on, the Týn Church underwent an overall reconstruction. Ever since the German occupation, the belfry in the Northern tower was empty. New bronze bell weighing 960 kg, manufactured by Manoušek Firm, was only settled in place at Easter 1992. The bell was dedicated to Pieta and St. Anežka Česká (Agnes of Bohemia). On the 19th February 2008, three new bells were settled in place: John of Nepomuk (weighing over 300 kg), Ludmila (over 500 kg), and Archangel Gabriel (2.5 tons), which were manufactured in the workshop of the Dytrych family in Brodek u Přerova.
Týn Church is a National Cultural Monument.