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The Churches of Olomouc

St Maurice

The Parish Church of St. Maurice ranks among the most precious buildings of the late Gothic style in Moravia. The three-naved structure has a cross vaulting (also known as a groin vault) dating from the middle of the 14th century. A more advanced net vault may be seen in the presbytery.

Two asymmetric prismatic towers were built on the western facade. In the western part of the church there is a unique double spiral staircase.

The real gem is the late Gothic sculpture of the 15th century, Christ on the Mount of Olives, located in the interior.

On the northern wall of the church, there is the Renaissance burial chapel of the Edelmann family. After a fire in 1709, the interior was redecorated in the Baroque style; Loretta Chapel and All Souls Chapel were added. Painters Jan Kryštof Handke, Karel Josef Haringer and Karel Moravec and sculptors Filip Sattler, Jan Sturmer and Ji?í Antonín Heinz took part in the Baroque adaptations of the interior.

Maurice‘s organ, the largest organ in Central Europe and the eighth largest in Europe, were made by Master Michael Engler in 1745. It was decorated by the sculptor Philip Sattler and the wood-carver Jan Ji?í Huckh. The original Baroque instrument with three keyboards underwent a renovation in the sixties of the 20th century.At that time a modern instrument was added, with 5 keyboards. Now the organ has 135 registers and 10,400 pipes.

In the mid 19th century, the church was equipped with new historicist furniture and underwent re-gothization in the years 1869-1908. The main altar is decorated with a Neo-Gothic retable from the mid 19th century.

Dominican Church

The Late Gothic Church of The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in today’s Sokol Street was originally built as a church of the Franciscan Monastery.

The monastery and the Church with the typical Franciscan sanctification were built at the initiative of the charismatic preacher and vicar general of Conventual Franciscans, Saint John of Capistrano in the years 1454-1468. By the mid 15th century Olomouc had become a strategic point of Capistrano’s missionary journeys to the Czech lands. The preacher visited the city in 1451 and 1454. His preaching against Utraquists and Jews found fertile soil here, and in 1454 Jews were expelled from all Moravian royal cities, including Olomouc. The church was consecrated in 1468 in the presence of King Matthias Corvinus. The Franciscan Convent further continued in Capistrano’s missionary task.

The church has a simple structure, which is typical for the Franciscan buildings. It is likely that the monastery with its church was built by the city building works, which built The Parish Church of St. Maurice at the same time. Although the Church Of The Immaculate Conception was built in the mid-15th century, the three-naved structure on a square plan has only a simple cross vaulting. More interesting, however, is the pyramidal roof of the church, as well as interior decoration with a few late Gothic wall paintings (such as Our Lady of the Rosary which dates from 1500 in the south aisle of the church, or the scene of the battle of Belgrade which occurred on July 22nd, 1456, shown at 46 m2 on the north wall of the presbytery). After 1525, the monastery with the church and adjoining suburbs of B?lidla were attached to the inner city due to a new line of city walls. An Early Baroque Chapel of St. Anthony of Padua was added to the church on the south side in 1653. Only a part of a cloister with original vaults has survived from the late Gothic period. The remaining part of the cloister was vaulted over in the Renaissance. The whole monastery was rebuilt in Baroque style in 1743. The church and the monastery underwent reconstruction in the nineties of the 20th century. Construction work was accompanied by an archaeological survey, which yielded many interesting findings. It was revealed, for example, that, over many centuries believers trod unwittingly on Jewish gravestones used during construction as a building material for the floor in the monastery church.

At present, the monastery with the church belongs to a Dominican Convent, also active at St. Michael.

The Capuchin Church

The Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, located in the southeast corner of the Lower Square in Olomouc, is a monastery church of the Capuchin order. Capuchins were brought to Olomouc by Cardinal Franz von Dietrichstein as early as 1615. The monastery church, however, wasn’t built until after the Thirty Years War.

The church was built by an unknown master builder between 1655 and 1661 as a simple single nave church with two side chapels and a rectangular presbytery. It was one of the first religious buildings in the city after the Swedish occupation of Olomouc (1642-1650). Unfortunately, not even the architect, whose work is considered very restrained, is known to us. The church’s layout belongs to typical Capuchin structures of the Mannerism period, built by the Capuchin order mainly in northwestern Europe. The nave has a barrel vault with lunettes, side chapels are vaulted over with cross vaults. The simple smooth main facade of the monastery church with a high triangular gable creates a significant urban landmark of the southern side of the Lower Square. The frontage is decorated with a mosaic above the entrance portal depicting the scene of the Annunciation. The stone entrance portal bears the date of commencement of construction of the church – the year 1655.

Chapel of St John Sarkander

The Neo-baroque chapel of St John Sarkander is a two-storeyed building crowned with a dome with a lantern opening. In the middle of the chapel, there is a circular opening into the basement, where a torture rack from Sarkander’s time has been situated. The interior of the chapel is impressively illuminated. Daylight from the lantern opening penetrates through the circular hole in the floor down to the basement.

The immediate surroundings of the chapel are one of the most picturesque corners of Olomouc. The adjoining double staircase is graced by a statue of St John of Nepomuk, in a corner niche there is a statue of St. Jan Sarkander.

In the past, the city prison where John Sarkander was interrogated and tortured to death in 1620 was located on the site of the Chapel. John Sarkander was accused by Protestants of having helped to arrange the invasion of the army of the Polish Catholic King into Moravia. However, he did not violate the Seal of Confession during the torture and was therefore canonized by Pope Pope John Paul II. during his visit to Olomouc in 1995.

Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius

This church was built in the style of Neoclassical Modernism. The simple exterior of the church contrasts with its rich decoration. In 1925 the Church Union approached the architect Ladislav Sk?ivánek, who developed an architectural and urban project. The project was processed by the architect and developer Josef Šálek from Brno, who had won in an anonymous competition. Building commenced on 16.September 1929 and was completed in 1932. The construction was carried out by contractors Jind?ich Kylián and Tomáš Šipka.

The tower is 65 m high while the cross on top of the tower is 8 m long, and the bronze statue of St. Cyril and Methodius on the forefront of the tower is 4.5 meters high. Julius Pelikan has created sculptures in stone, wood and metal: the bronze sculpture of St. Cyril and Methodius, the statues on the side altars, statues in the Chapel of Virgin Mary, a relief on the baptismal font and a relief on the pulpit. The organ with thirty registers was made by the Rieger brothers. In the crypt of the church, there is the tomb of Archbishop Pre?an, who was responsible for having the church built.

Church od Saint Gorazd

The Church of St. Gorazd is a free-standing, symmetrical, segmented building. It culminates in an octagonal tower, topped with a gilded bulbous dome with a cross. In the basement there is an extra prayer room, surrounded by administrative rooms. An outside staircase leads to an entrance hall situated on an elevated ground floor, from where you can enter the actual church space.

Above the entrance in a niche there is an oil painting on tin depicting St. Gorazd. A painting of the Mother of God is placed on the bell-tower wall above the church vestibule. A stone plaque with the date of the church’s origin is placed in the rear wall of the semicircular apse. The traditional Russian Byzantine-like architecture was an obvious source of inspiration for this Olomouc church. The church is an urban and architectural landmark of the eastern part of the city centre.

Saint Michael’s Church

The three domes of the St. Michael’s Church are one of the most distinctive landmarks of the city.

This Baroque church was rebuilt from the original Gothic church and was consecrated probably in 1251. Outer walls and a vault at the end of the presbytery have been preserved of the original early Gothic building. The church was rebuilt into the current Early-Baroque form in 1673-1686 as proposed by G. P. Tencalla.

The single-nave structure with side chapels has a rich sculptural and painting decoration and is an example of the Baroque appeal aimed at the senses of the church-goers. The front face of the church is decorated with statues of the Virgin Mary and the Salvator Mundi by Ond?ej Zahner and date from the 1830’s. A Gothic St. Alexei Chapel and a Gothic Cloister with cross vaulting adjoin the church building.

The interior was re-decorated in the Baroque style after the fire of 1709. In the years 1892 -1898 the church underwent a Neo-Baroque reconstruction.

Evangelical Church

The Evangelical Church above the Morava River, on the corner of Husova St. and Blahoslavova St. was built as a result of conflicts between Czechs and Germans regarding the use of the so called Red Church. The building of the Evangelical Church of the Czech Brotherhood started in the first days of the World War I. The church with many halls for Sunday school, youth and bible lessons was bulit for war troubles until 1920. The interior was renovated from 1987–88 according to the project of architect Bartak

Hussite Church

The Czech-Slovak Church of Hus Choir is a three nave basilica on the north western border of the historical center. The main prayer area is located on a raised ground. It is accessible by a large staircase with six pillars with heads. The whole church has a dome-shaped roof with a lantern and tower. A tower with a goblet, located asymmetrically to the church is located in the back. A columbarium is located under the church. The Church was built from 1924–1926 in neo-classical style.

Information courtesy of Olomouc Tourism