Church of Our Lady Before Tyn: Prague’s Finest Church Visitors to the “Old Town” district in the Czech Republic’s Prague will find themselves overshadowed by the towering steeples and Gothic beauty of the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn. This magnificent structure was originally erected in 1385 but the full church was not complete until more than century after it was opened to the public. Original construction was headed by Matthias of Arras, the famed architect who constructed other famous cathedrals and religious buildings including the Saint Vitus Cathedral, also located in Prague. The project was later headed by Peter Parler, an equally influential architect whose work is responsible for much of Old Town’s beauty.
It wasn’t until 1511, long after the death of the original architects that the Church was fully completed. The final missing puzzle piece, the statuesque towers that make the church such a landmark were finally built. During this time, the Church of Our Lady began to accumulate beautiful works of art and religious icons. One of these pieces, a beautiful statue of George of Podebrady, ruler of the Hussites and King of Bohemia, was displayed alongside a golden chalice signifying the king’s honor and love for his people. Here the church remained until the early 1600s when the Thirty Year’s War brought discord and unrest to the area. As the Bohemian influence faded, the golden chalice was melted down to create a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Not just home to artistic and religious wonders, the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn is also the home to items of historical significance to the scientific community. Still standing within the church is one of the world’s oldest pipe organs. This 350 year old instrument has helped illustrate the style and mechanics of these early technological marvels. Also of interest is the grave of Tycho Brahe, astronomer and discoverer of the supernova.
Due to a lightning strike in the late 17th century, much of the church was damaged due to a fire. Restoration efforts have been active ever since. As a result, the classical vaults of the church were removed and renovated in a Baroque style in the 1700s. Modern-day renovations have been ongoing since the 1970s. Exterior work completed in 1995 has returned this marvelous church’s awe-inspiring facade to its original form. The church’s interior is still being worked on and there are no set completion dates.
Today’s tourists can visit this and many of other Prague’s churches. Now a Roman Catholic church, services are still held. Visiting hours are between 10 am and 4 pm. Be advised that the church is closed to tourists from 2 pm to 3 pm. Many walking tours of the city will bring visitors to the Church of Our Lady, but unaffiliated groups are just as welcome.
As part of Prague’s Old Town, there are plenty of cafe’s, historical sites, and beautiful architecture to soak in after you’ve completed your visit to the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn. If you’re planning to spend the entire day in the area, you might want to arrange a tour. Be sure to check ahead to find out if and when English speaking tours are available.