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Church of Our Lady Before Týn, Prague, Czech Republic

The most important church on the right bank of the Vltava is unquestionably the Church of Our Lady Before Týn, also called Týn Church, which is also one of the most recognisable sights on Old Town Square.

The name derives from the walled merchant’s courtyard behind the church known as the Ungelt. In as early as the 12th century, an older, Romanesque chapel (cited in records from 1135) was located on the site. The current High Gothic structure was founded in the mid-14th century. Its appearance was strongly influenced by Emperor Charles IV’s court workshop under Petr Parler. The richly decorated, 28-metre-tall façade window, the tracery in the windows of the nave, the presbytery and grand northern portal are all prominent marks of his work. The church was also the spiritual centre of Prague’s independent quarters in the latter half of the 14th century. During the Hussite movement, a group of Jan Hus’ supporters, led by Jacob of Mies, took control of Týn Church. In 1427, Hussite Bishop John of Rokycan was elected vicar of Týn; he is buried in the church.

The church is a three-aisle basilica with towers on the western facade and three choirs on the eastern side. The towers are 80 metres tall. Despite Baroque adaptations, the church has retained its original appearance.

The church has an extensive gallery of Gothic, Renaissance and early Baroque works of art. Of the interior church fixtures, a tin Gothic baptismal font from 1414 (the oldest in Prague) decorated with reliefs of the apostles, a stone Gothic pulpit and two Gothic sedilia with consoles in the shape of crowned heads are of particular note. A Late Gothic stone baldachin created by Mat?j Rejsek in 1493 is located by the second pillar on the left side aisle. The Calvary (1410) located in the choir of the left aisle is also a unique and remarkable wood carving. The main altar, featuring altarpieces by Karel Škréta (Ascension of the Virgin Mary and the Holy Trinity), is an example of Early Baroque portal architecture from 1649. The Týn Church organ is the oldest in Prague.

Týn Church also contains a large number of preserved tombs. One of the most famous is the 1601 tomb of Tycho Brahe, a Danish astronomer and alchemist who served the court of Emperor Rudolph II.

Information courtesy of praguewelcome.cz

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