It is not possible to overlook the two tall and slim towers of the church of the Virgin Mary’s Ascension on the west horizon of Prague. From the distance the towers represent not only this sanctuary but also the whole complex of the Praemonstratensian Monastery in Strahov.
The most credit for the foundation of the monastery in Strahov must be given to Jindřich Zdík, the bishop of Olomouc and significant Czech politician of the first half of 12th century. The foundation of the monastery is dated to the year 1140. The site chosen for the construction was at that time deserted even though the location was very close to Prague Castle. The quarries for arenaceous marl and the plentiful springs of drinking water were right on location, which was a big advantage. As the mentioned date suggests, the construction works started in the Romanesque period. This has been proven withy extensive archaeological and construction research in the 1950’s. Throughout the centuries the spectacular architectural complex had gradually been created here, which also includes other buildings with very valuable works of art. The monastery became a place of exceptional culture, evidenced by the existence of the library hall of Theology and Philosophy from the baroque period.
The church of the Virgin Mary’s Ascension was originally a Romanesque basilica from the second half of the 12th century. Later it was reconstructed several times (in 1601 and in 1627 to a Renaissance style). The church gained its baroque look in the second half of the 18th century, when it was also extended. The remains of St. Norbert were brought from Magdeburg and buried here in 1627. The Saint was then pronounced a Patron of Bohemia.
The new baroque forefront and the steeples of 50.5m high were built in 1743-1751 by the designs of Arch. Anselm Luraga. The steeples were given baroque bulbous cupolas with lanterns and finials and were topped by tall spires.