The Best Example Of Czech Baroque Gothic Architecture. Jan Blazej Santini Aichl. The Collection of Militaria.
Order Tour Code: C SWW6
Kladruby monastery offers the best example of Czech Baroque Gothic architecture built by the outstanding architect Jan Blazej Santini. Also there is the third biggest Czech church, the largest collection of militaria (i.e. books and atlases on military topics) in the library exhibition, the collection of precious Baroque items (used at religious services, i.e. chalices, ostensories and the like) in a unique sacristy, one of the most beautiful organs in the world which has Baroque tuning, the unique set of orifinal frescoes in Bohemia by the greatest Bavarian painter of the 18th century Kosmas Damian Asam. Kladruby is the burial place of the founder of the monastery, Prince Vladislav I., the only Premyslid monarch to be buried outside Prague.
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St Jan Nepomucký (John Nepomucky) is the best-known Czech Saint who is at the same time the most frequently portrayted Saint all over Europe. His martyr’s death was connected with the history of the Kladruby Monastery: At the end of the 14th century the Prague Archbishop Jan of Jenštejn came into a conflict with the Czech King Václav IV (Wenceslas IV). The King wanted to limit the political and financial power of the Prague Archbishop by establishing a new bishopric in Western Bohemia. He chose for this purpose the Kladruby Monastery. Upon the death of Abbot Racek in 1393, however, the Prague Archbishop managed to thwart the King’s intentions by promptly electing a new abbot, with the election immediately approved by the Archbishop’s Vicar general, Jan Nepomucký. This made the King so furious that he had Jan Nepomucký (together with his two companions) imprisoned. The Prague Archbishop Jan of Jenštejn run to Rome, however, Jan Nepomucký was tortured to death and thrown down by the King’s soldiers from the Charles Bridge to Vltava River.
After many years, people have told about a number of miracles related to Jan Nepomucký. It gave rise to a beautiful legend: He is said that he was tortured to death because he had refused to reveal the seal of confession of Queen Žofie, the wife of King Václav IV. However, only few people know that the history of his death was different.
In 1729, Jan Nepomucký was festively canonized. He is known as a patron Saint of Bohemia, of confessors, seal of confession, priests, bridges, pilgrims, lawyers, millers, of honour etc.
In the third room of the exposition, there is situated a special collection of collages from the second half of the 19th century showing the life of St Jan Nepomucký from his birth till his martyr’s death and exhumation in the 18th century. When his body was exhumated, in his scull the exhumators found unusual substance which looked like tongue. They considered it as a miracle. In 1980s the anthropologist investigated this „tongue“ and they discovered that it is a part of brain – brain tissue. You can see it in St Vitus’ Cathedral at Prague Castle where Jan Nepomucký was buried.
In 1114 Prince Vladislav I founded a monastery in Kladruby to ensure security and colonization in the western borderland of the Czech state. Here there were invited memebers of the Benedictine Order who were famous for their outstanding managmenet abilities and education, and thus they best suited the monarch´s intention to create a centre from which they would develop faith, culture and organised farming. At the same time, apparently also under the influence of the monarch´s wife, this place was chosen on an important trade route as a safe and respectable place for the monarch, where he could stay overnight during his frequent journeys to the neighbouring country.
In the 13th century the monastery owned 120 villages and 3 small towns, and thus it became the richest monastery in Bohemia. Its importance is evident in the huge building of the monastic church. The first attempt at establishing a bishop´s seat in western Bohemia based at the Kladruby monastery dates back to 1393.
The monastery had great difficulties in surviving, it was plundered and damaged during the Hussite revolts in the 15th century and during the Thirty Years´war in the 17th century.
The reconstruction begun after the arrival of the new abbot Fintzgut.
When the Kladruby monastery again ranked among the richest in Bohemia, it was dissolved in 1785 by Joseph II, movable assets were sold off and the monastery itself was to be administred by the so-called church fund. In the monastery as such there was operating a military hospital, a disabled soldier´s home and a gunpowder store-room. Even the army, however, did not damage the place to such an extent as Windischgraetz who obtaiend it after 1825. In the convent he founded a brewery which subsequently burnt down. He had the monk´s coffins thrown out from the monastic crypt,which he rebuilt into his family crypt. When the Windischgraetzs were forced to leave after the first land reform in 1920, they established their new residence in the monastic buildings. The relatively well-preserved east wing of the new convent was then converted into a library.
Afer World War II the monastery was occupied by a state farm, later it was taken over by the Czech National Trust in Pilsen, which since then has been gradually refurbishing the monastic buildings.
Now it has been restored with the support of UNESCO.
The architect Jan Blazej Santini Aichl (1677-1723), born in Prague, his Italian father had his stoneware works near the Prague Castle. Due to disablement, Jan Blazej could not purchase his father´s craft, and thus he trained to become a painter and the architect. During his working visit around Europe, especially to France, he became familiar with the secrets of cathedral builders. This knowledge he ingeniously incorporated into his own works which represent Czech Baroque Gothis. he designed mostly ecclesiastical buildings. Having been forgotten and misunderstood for a long time, he is now in the limelight. A number of elements and bold constructions he had once designed were not used in architecture until now.
The Church of the Assumption of the Virgen Mary
Erected in two stages between the mid-12th century and 1233, the original church used to be a Romanesque basilica with a transept, three apses and two prismatic towers flanking the front. Considering its length of 86 m, it was the longest Romanesque basilica in Bohemia which was built under Norman influence.
The church received its current look within the remodelling conducted by Johann Blasisus Santini – Aichel between 1713 and 1726. He kept the peripheral masonry, replaced the termination of the presbytery with a trefoiled termination, tore down the lateral towers and shortened the nave in the west side by 4 m to set the cupola into the centre of the longitudinal axis. The church was painted in Gold Ochre.
Santini’s greatest accomplishment is the construction – or more precisely, the extension – of the transept crowned by a 39-meter-high cupola and a lantern which transmits light into the interior through the so-called oculus.
Santini enhanced the then Baroque style by applying some Gothic features; namely, lancet windows or pinnacles. According to the Penguin Dictionary of Architecture, a pinnacle is a small turret-like termination crowning spires or buttresses; usually or steep pyramidal or conical shape and ornamented.
The intricate system of the decorative ribbed vault often bears late Gothic motifs. The patterns of the vault were not chosen coincidentally; in fact, they conceal symbols having some relation to the monastery. For example, the vaulting of the is scattered with stylised trefoiled lilies. This symbol of purity also adorns the coat-of-arms of Kladruby abbots.
Structures erected in Santini’s Baroque Gothic style appear only in the Bohemian Lands; in other European countries they can be found only exceptionally. On account of its brilliant artistic conception, creative invention and enormous value, the dome at Kladruby meant the climax of Santini’s lifelong career. All furnishings of the church originated during the Baroque remodelling, with some pieces designed by Santini himself. Moreover, Santini closely co-operated with other artisans to achieve absolute consistence and purity of the church interior’s style.
The Library of the Windischgrätz Family
The library and the family archives testify to the ancientness of this family. The expansion of the library was predominantly spurred by Count Nicholas Windischgrätz and Field Marshal Prince Alfred I Windischgrätz. The library hall received its current look in 1936 upon the take-over of the Kladruby domain by Louis Aladar from the family’s parallel Hungarian line. He can be credited with transferring collections from the ancestral mansions at Štìkeò, Svìtce and Tachov, as well as from Vienna to Kladruby.
Virtually all members of the House of Windischgrätz paid attention to the library, with the precious books serving their prestige and educational needs. Currently, the historic library at Kladruby provides us with detailed information about this ancient lineage which had indisputably entered history of this country.
The library shelves contain about 30 000 books, maps, catalogues and plans, as well as writings related to the House of Windischgrätz. The books are in German, French, Italian, English and Latin. Moreover, the library includes manuscripts and books written by members of this family. Thematically, the library covers philosophy, mathematics, ecclesiastical history, law, military science, travel books, geography, encyclopaedias and quite common early 20th-century fiction books. The book are filed in a catalogue which serves various interested experts through the meditation of the Prague-based National Museum Library.