The monastery was founded by the Bohemian king Vladislav II. in 1169 as the first Johannite commendam in Bohemia. The knightly order of Johannites renewed its activities here in 1989 and the church of Virgin Mary under the Chain is a part of the huge building complex of this order in Prague, which is located among the streets Saská, Lázeňská and the Velkopřevorské náměstí. Saint John the Baptist is the patron of the order, therefore they are called the Johannites.
Mysteries related to the church name
It is interesting that the ornatory has several names. Virgin Mary under the Chain is its most widely known name but it used to be called „the end of the bridge“ or „At the Malteses„. Now we will explain the reasons of these rather strange names. It is called the end of the bridge because it used to stand very close to the Judith (later Charles) Bridge. The most familiar name „under the chain“ is used because the monastery gate used to be closed by a chain which was according to a legend made of gold.
Several historical facts
The origin of the early Gothic church dates back to the 13th century. In the past, it was affected by several fires and plunders in the period of the Hussite Wars. The building takes pride in its two prismatic towers supporting the monumental corner pillars. The original Romanic three-aisle church used to be much bigger than today. From the original buidling only remains in the current courtyard and the parts in the side aisle of the today´s church survived.
In the middle of the 14th century an extensive Gothic reconstruction of the church started during which the original Romanic basilica was completely torn down. Certainly every visitor will notice the timber statue in the church gable. It is a late Gothic statue of the Madonna. There was an extensive Baroque reconstruction into the today´s appearance of the church in 1640.
The interior of the church
Everyone has to be enchanted by the splendid main altar. The interpreted scenes show the life of the apostol Paul. You will further notice the pulpit and the statues of the saints in the main aisle. The other gems are the paintings with the Biblical motives, the statues of the persons who played important role in the development and reconstrucction of the church and many others.
So if you find yourself in the Lesser Town close to Čertovka you should not miss the visit of this exceptional sacred building.
Lázeňská, Praha 1 – Malá Strana
Take the street Mostecká fom the bus/tram station around the Kounický palác which leads towards the Charles Bridge. Take the right turning in front of the Malostranská věž to the street Lázeňská and soon you will find the point on the left.
GPS: N 50° 05′ 10.68″ E 14° 24′ 22.68″