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Church of Our Lady Before Tyn (Panna Maria Pred Tynem)

Church of Our Lady Before Tyn (Panna Maria Pred Tynem) (5)

Even though it seems like something out of a fantasy cartoon film with its two mysterious towers of over 80 metres height, the church of Our Lady Before Tyn has a much older history than you would imagine on first sight.

We know that as far back as 1135 there was a church belonging to the Hospice of Foreign Traders. It has passed through several stages and reconstructions, but the temple as we know it today was built between the 14th and 16th centuries. Our Lady of Tyn is, after the Cathedral of Saint Vitus, the city’s main religious building and the most important in Gothic style. It stands in the Old Town Square.

Between the 16th and 17th centuries this church was the most important supporter of religious reforms and between its walls the main preachers of this cause were heard. It was also the most important place of worship for the Hussite dynasty of Prague to the extent that the first and only Hussite archbishop in history was parish priest here. 

In order to ensure that his power be seen, King George of Podêbrady ordered a gilded chalice to be placed on the façade as a symbol of his religious tendency. This chalice did not last long, though: in 1620, the victorious Catholics of the Battle of White Mountain melted it down to make an image of the Virgin. This solid gold statue can still be seen presiding over the main façade of the church.

On imposing their hegemony once again, the Catholics transformed the original decoration of the church and adapted it to baroque tastes. The altars still boast the paintings of the first great baroque painter, Karel Skreta. Despite the heavy darkness that reigns inside, in the main altar you will discover images dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin and the Holy Trinity. There are other altars such as those of Saint Barbara, Saint Joseph, Saint Adalbert or Saint John the Baptist.

In Our Lady Before Tyn there are illustrious figures buried such as the astronomer and astrologer Tycho Brahe or the Hussite Archbishop Jan Rokycana, whose tomb is decorated with a baldachin.

At the end of the south nave, you can see the oldest baptismal in Prague.

Behind the church is the Tyn Courtyard, where several architectural styles can be appreciated. The church gets its name from the same word “tyn”, which means “enclosed courtyard”.

Outside on the north face is the 14th-century portico decorated with scenes from the Passion of Christ. Next to the main entrance of the church is a house with Romanesque arches and an 18th-century façade.

In Celetná Street and adjoining Our Lady Before Tyn, there still stands a house where for some time the family of the writer Franz Kafka lived.

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