Open-Air Museum Vesely kopec and the UNESCO Protected Pilgrimage Church of St. John on the Green Hill
Order Tour Code: CEE7
Open-air museum Vesely kopec and the pilgrimage church of St. John of
Nepomuk on Green Hill protected by UNESCO
Apart from the Betlém in Hlinsko, the Vysočina Collection
East from Prague over 70 km
It is 2 hours to drive from Prague.
The Open-air Museum Vesely Kopec and the pilgrimage church of St. John of Nepomuk on Green Hill (UNESCO)
Vesely Kopec Open-air Museum of Folk
Consisting of farms scattered all over the area, the
museum is situated on a site that was settled as early as in the Middle Ages. In addition to farms and small rural dwellings, the open-air museum contains an axe-making workshop, a water mill, an oil mill and a sawmill. Visitors can also explore another museum exhibition located in
nearby Svobodné Hamry. The local settlement originated in the 15th century close to an iron mill. When the ore deposits were exhausted, the waterworks was used to propel a water mill or fulling and stamping machines used in the processing of tanning materials. Vesely Kopec was a favourite destination of the author K. V. Rais and many painters, including F. Kaván. Today the collection of folk architecture serves as a venue for a variety of folklore events and thematic exhibitions held
The pilgrimage church of St. John of Nepomuk on Green Hill
Symbol of a legendary saint and masterpiece of an architect*At the beginning of the 18^th century an architectural style unparalleled in the rest of Europe developed in Bohemia. Known as Baroque Gothic because
it involved the transposition of Gothic elements into Baroque form it was the style in which the Church of St. John of Nepomuk on Zelena hora (Green Hill) was built in the years 1719 to 1722 near the town of Zdar nad Sazavou.
The pilgrimage church at Green Hill is a unique work of art and
indisputably the most original and individual building designed by the brilliant Bohemian-Italian architect Jan Blažej Santini-Aichl in the Baroque Gothic style. It is a building that escaped the conventional architectural rules and nostrums of the time, and it impresses even the modern eye as quite exceptional, with its complex interconnecting
spatial forms, the dynamism of these volumes, and the upward lift that defies the weight of the masonry. The foundation of the church was linked to the preparations for the beatification and canonisation of John of Nepomuk after the opening of his tomb in St. Vitus´s Cathedral in Prague and the finding of his allegedly miraculously intact tongue.
Construction started in 1719 on the orders of the Abbot of the nearby Cistercian monastery, Vaclav Vejmluva, and the church was consecrated a mere two years later.
John of Nepomuk (in Czech Jan Nepomucky, originally Jan of Pomuk) lived in the reign of the King of Bohemia Wenceslas IV, son of Charles IV.
Through education and industry Jan worked his way up to become deputy to the Archbishop John of Jenstejn, but long-running disputes between the king and archbishop were to have a brutal impact on John´s destiny. When Jenstejn obstructed Wenceslas´s plans for the creation of a new bishopric in West Bohemia, the king decided the time had come for cruel punishment of the offenders. Archbishop fled from the King´s wrath, but John of Pomuk and several others ended on the rack. John did not survive the torture, and was already dead when the executioner´s assistants threw his body into the Vltava River from Charles Bridge. What then is the origin of the legend of Jan the martyr? A year after his death there was a terrible drought, which people regarded as God´s punishment. What
is more, in an attempt to paint the king even blacker certain clerical circles started to spread reports of John´s courage, saying that as confessor to the Queen he had refused to reveal her secrets, and that was why he had been murdered. Belief in John´s supernatural powers culminated with the discovery of the saint´s supposed tongue when three centuries later his tomb was opened and a priece of reddened tissue fell out of his skull. The mystery was cleared up in 1973 when scientists showed that the reddish tissue was not a tongue, but part of the brain
with congealed blood.
The layout of the building has mystical aspects mentioned in the even at the time when it was complete. The basic principle is the composition of the five-pointed star (five-pointed ground plan, five enterances, five altar niches, twenty-five chapels around a central space, five stars and five angels on the high altar), the symbol not only of the five wounds
of Christ, but also of the five letters in the Latin word „tacui“ (I kept silent) and above all the five stars in the halo of the martyr St. John of Nepomuk, which the legend tells us were seen above his drowned body.
In the very centre of the building, at the top of the cupola, is a tongue, symbol of John the martyr of the secrets of the confessional. It is also to be found in the form of the pointed windows. The composition of these windows by the lantern chapel above the entrance resebles a sheathed sword. According tot the legend Jan´s determination not to reveal the confessional secret meant that his tongue remained hidden in
his mouth like a sword in a sheath.
The high altar on the eastern side is set into high arcades that reach right up to the second-floor gallery. The sculptures of five angels on the high altar and the four evangelists are the work of the Chrudim sculptor Jan Pavel Čechpauer. Three of the angels carry a sphere (the triumphal arch) decorated with five stars. On the sphere stands the figure of St. John of Nepomuk, the work of Rehor Theny. Despite the massive size of the walls, the whole shrine gives an impression of
lightness. There is little ornament and no grandiose Baroque frescos; the idea is expressed just by the way the light works in space.
The church is surrounded by cloisters in the pattern of a ten-pointed star, which provide shelter for the pilgrims from bad weather. The relationship between the ten-pointed Marian star and the five-pointed star of John refers to the tie between the extinct monastery in Nepomuk and the Zdar monastery, where the monks moved after a devastating fire. They retained the memory of their original home at least in the name
Zelena Hora. In recognition of its unique value, the whole complex of
the pilgrimage Church of St. Jan of Nepomuk was placed on the
prestigious UNESCO List of World Cultural Heritage in 1994.
May - September daily except Monday, from 9am till 5pm
April and October only on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, for groups
from 10 persons to book the sightseeing in advance, from 9am till 5pm
Last visit always at 4.30pm.
Every Sunday from 20^th April to 13^th July 2008 visits start at 10.30am.