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Church of Virgin Mary under Chain

Lesser town - Prague 1 Category: Church towers

GPS: 50°5'11.04"N, 14°24'21.96"E

 

The church was part of the large complex of the Johanniter Knights Order, who renewed their activity in our lands at the end of 1989. In the past the members of this very powerful Maltese Order called themselves Johanniters, by their patron St. John Baptist. The church, which is located between the streets Saská, Lázeňská and Velkopřevorské Square, has several names. It is known as the church of the Virgin Mary under Chain or church at “Bridge-End” and also as the church “at Maltese”. The “bridge-end” name was used because the church as one of the oldest Lesser Town churches was located closest to the bridge of Judith (later called Charles Bridge). It was only later that the Saxon house was built here. The gate of the monastery courtyard used to be locked by chain that is why the word “chain” appears in the church name.

The original neo-gothic building was founded in the mid 13th century in place of the roman basilica. The church was burned down twice. First during the Hussite riots in 1420, when the whole complex was gutted and again in 1503. The Baroque renovation of the church was carried out in 17th century probably by Carl Lurag. So it happened that the church became only a shadow of its previous ancient splendour. Its gothic past can only be seen in the face of the building and by two much reduced steeples.

It is exactly these steeples on the west side, at only 32 m high that are referred to as “incomplete”. They were originally taller but after the blazes they were cut down. The mighty prismatic steeple-towers made of carefully worked arenaceous marl stone are crowned with pyramidal roofs. Their original gothic windows are walled up. The steeples are supported by corner pillars.