09 Feb Exploring Prague – The convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia
Exploring Prague’s finest gothic…
When someone says “Prague”, most of the people would imagine Charles Bridge, St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Town Hall with its famous Astronomical Clock or some of Prague’s breathtaking churches, whose towers are soaring up to the skies. What all of these sites have in common is a gothic style of architecture. Yes, the pointy style, as many tourists would say :-)
Probably one of the finest examples of gothic style in Prague is the Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia founded in 13th century by St. Agnes; a daughter of a powerful Bohemian king Premysl Ottokar I. and Constanz of Hungary.
Who is St. Agnes?
St. Agnes was Premysl’s youngest daughter (his 11th child). Originally she was expected to marry some powerful European king, however, it didn’t really work for her. Her planned marriage with Henry VII (of Germany) was canceled and after couple other unsuccessful plans she was given a free will to choose between trying to get married one more time or a life of a nun, if she’d like to. Inspired by her aunt (probably), she decided to go for a church carrier and use her influence and skills to build one of Prague’s largest convents.
Abbess and influential politician
St. Agnes invited to this newly built convent the Order of St. Clare, which she joined and led for couple of years. Even though she was trying to establish her own order, she wasn’t successful. Besides her spiritual life she was very skilled diplomat and used her skills on local, as well as European political scene. She was able to read and write in four different languages – Czech, German, Latin and Italian, which allowed her to exchange letters with the most important people of that era – such as saint Clare, pope Gregory IX and pope Innocent IV.
Death, beatification and canonization
People in medieval ages lived usually pretty short lives. But that wasn’t the case for St. Agnes, since she died when she was 71! (average age at that time would be around 50 years). Shortly after her death Elizabeth of Bohemia (who was her great grandniece) was trying to get Agnes beatificated and canonized. Unfortunately, we needed to wait for that over 700 years. She was beatificated in year 1874 by Prague’s archbishop Friedrich Johannes Jacob Celestin von Schwarzenberg and finally canonized by John Paul II in year 1989.
Her legacy – The Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia
Nowadays the Convent of St. Agnes of Bohemia belongs to one of the most valuable sights of Prague. Due to its close connection to the royal family it was chosen as a burial place of Czech kings and queens during 13th century. The convent was abandoned during the Hussite wars (1419-1434) and in upcoming decades and centuries started to fall apart. During countless reforms of Joseph II was the former convent turned into a factory. Luckily, at the end of 19th century, slow process of renovation began and nowadays the convent of St. Agnes belongs to the National Gallery. The exposition includes some of the most valuable pieces of early medieval art you can find in the Czech Republic.
The convent is opened to public from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm. The entry ticket (300 CZK) is valid to all buildings of the National Gallery.
More info can be found here: http://www.ngprague.cz/en/
Btw. if you haven’t seen our video from the convent of St. Agnes, check it out here: