The St. Agnes of Bohemia Convent, located in the Old Town of Prague, is the oldest Gothic building in all of the Czech Republic, as well as one of the oldest convents in Europe. The founder of the convent was Princess Agnes. She lived during the 13th century and spent her life assisting the poor and sick. The convent and the church were built from 1231 to 1234. At the time, it was one of the most modern buildings in Prague.
The Order of the Poor Ladies, also known as the Poor Clares, lived in the convent for many years. However, during the 15h century Hussite wars, the nuns left and in 1784, the Poor Clares, like many religious orders, were banned. The buildings fell into disrepair until the National Gallery in Prague took it over and restored it. Now it has been designated as the National Cultural Heritage of the Czech Republic.
The Convent has two main buildings – the convent of the Poor Clares and a monastery. The convent is the oldest brick building in Prague. Some of the other buildings in the complex include St. Francis Church and St. Salvator’s Church. The St. Francis Church has one of the oldest stained glass windows in Central Europe and concerts are still performed in the church. Finally, St. Salvator’s Church was the first example of the French Gothic style in the Czech Republic. You can see medieval art collection on the grounds as well.
There are a few legends associated with the old Convent. The first is that the sisters, prior to being banned, made a special elixir called ‘swallow’s water’ that they would give to the deserving poor to cure their illnesses. After the convent was banned, only one sister knew the recipe, but she died before revealing it to anyone and now its curative properties have been lost in time.
Another legend is based on a ghost-story. Supposedly, one of the nuns was killed by her father when he found out that she was in love with a local boy. He killed her out of the shame that she brought her family and cursed her spirit, saying that she would have to walk the grounds of the convent for as long as it stands. People say that her ghost still walks the grounds in her blood covered nun’s clothes. It is also said that she will help young people who are unlucky in love.
You can find the Convent at U milosrdnych 17, Prague in the Old Town. You use public transportation and take the metro to the Staromestska station and then taking tram no. 17 to the Pravnick fakulta stop. You can also take the metro to the Manesti Republiky stop and then take tram nos. 5, 8, or 14 to the Dlouha trida stop.
The convent is open every day except Mondays from 10 am to 6 pm. Admission is 100Kc ($4.75/£2.40) for adults and 50Kc ($2.40/£1.20) for children.