8 Sacred Sights
The Benedictines were the messengers
of the Romanesque style, building
rotundas, churches, basilicas and
monasteries. They had aspirations for
each of their abbeys to become
an important place of pilgrimage.
In addition to its decorative function,
sculptural and painted ornamentation
also took on an educational purpose –
depicting the lives of saints and royal
families. You can see this, for instance,
in the St. Catherine Rotunda, which is
part of the castle complex in Znojmo.
On its walls, unique paintings with
Christian and secular themes are
From the mid-12th century, another
important order was the Cistercians.
Their monasteries came to symbolize the
prosperity of the country, education, art,
and care for the needy. Developments
in mathematics and geometry gave
rise to another new style – the Gothic.
In addition to monasteries, majestic
cathedrals were built whose stained glass
windows told the stories of saints in an
even more compelling manner.
Monasteries and beer
Monasteries in Bohemia and Moravia
are interesting not just for their
architecture and their genius loci,
but also for their very close connection
with beer. The history of monasteries
was linked with brewing beer from
the beginning. Indeed, beer brewing was
inherent to the monastery foundation
charters themselves. Until roughly the
12th century, beer was part of the daily
diet, and its preparation was taken
as a given, primarily in convent kitchens.
The ingredients in beer diversified the
diet, particularly in periods of fasting.
Designated spaces for brewing gradually
began to be established in monastery
complexes, thus breweries. Today we are
reminded of this connection in the names
of some beers and breweries themselves:
Opat (Abbot) from the Broumov
Monastery, Klášter (Abbey) from Klášter
Hradiště nad Jizerou, or St. Norbert from
the Strahov Monastery in Prague.
Monastery in Vyšší Brod
The Cistercian monastery in Vyšší Brod
near Český Krumlov was founded
by the Rožmberk (Rosenberg) family
in 1259 and was not inhabited by monks
for a long time. Construction of the
monastery took more than 100 years.
The most valuable artefacts are the
Vyšší Brod Madonna, one of the most
beautiful surviving examples of Gothic
panel painting in Bohemia, and the rich
monastery library.
Zlatá Koruna (Golden Crown)
A few kilometres from Český Krumlov,
on a promontory above the river Vltava,
stands a lovely Cistercian monastery,
which is considered to be one of the
most valuable complexes of Gothic
architecture in Central Europe.
The picturesque monastery complex
is a place of architectural treasures and
other points of interest. For example,
the local Church of the Assumption
of the Virgin Mary is the largest church
in South Bohemia, and a gift the
monastery received indirectly from
French King Louis IX the Pious is said
to be a thorn from Christ’s crown, from
which the monastery took its name.
The Zlatá Koruna Monastery boasts
a musical marvel. In 2012, it acquired
a unique concert grand piano made
by the renowned Berlin firmCarl
Bechstein. It is the only instrument
of its kind in the world, and it was
originally made to order for the
Imperial Palace in Saint Petersburg.
The piano graces concerts at the
monastery complex.
Monastery in Želiv
The monastery was established in 1139.
It was first inhabited by Benedictines
from the nearby abbey in Sázava,
then later by the community of
Premonstratensians from Steinfeld in the
Rhineland. Over its history it underwent
a number of changes. After many fires,
it was restored several times – most
notably in 1713–1720 in the spirit of the
Baroque Gothic by the architect Jan
Santini Aichel. During the communist
totalitarian period of the second half
of the 20th century, the monastery
became an internment camp for spiritual
leaders. It lies in the midst of nature
in the scenic Vysočina region and can
be reached via a variety of hiking
and cycling trails.
Part of the monastery complex
is the Želiv Monastery Brewery,
which produces six kinds of beer
using traditional methods. You can
also arrange accommodations
in the monastery. Whoever wants
to escape from the hustle and bustle
of daily life can spend some time
in the calm environment of the
monastery in contemplation
and prayer with the
Premonstratensian brothers.
Abbey in Teplá
This Premonstratensian abbey was
founded in the early 12th century in the
picturesque countryside near Mariánské
Lázně. The oldest surviving part is the
Romanesque-Gothic hall church of the
Annunciation of the Lord. In the late
17th and early 18th centuries, the abbey
was rebuilt in the Baroque style by
Kryštof Dientzenhofer. The abbey library
contains 100,000 volumes and is one
of the oldest and most important
historical libraries in the Czech Republic.
The abbey complex includes a historical
park with a pond and Stations
of the Cross.
Just beyond the abbey walls
is a nine-hole golf course. During
the tourist season, from Easter
to the end of October, you can
stay at a hotel in the Teplá Abbey.
Monastery in Vyšší Brod
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