5. Our Lady of the Visitation Church
The mediaeval world oscillated between two poles, represented in any particular location by the seats of secular nobility and by church buildings. Castles, keeps, and later also chateaux embodied the daily joys and sorrows of the world, while churches and vicarages symbolised the mediaeval people’s aspiration to God and eternity. From the 14th century onwards, the Church of Our Lady of the Visitation has constituted the lower side of the square, continuing the tradition of a spiritual centre started by the earlier St. Bartholomew’s Church below the castle.
Its first recording goes back to 1365, when the presbytery, the sacristy and the southern portal of the nave were already in existence. However, the origins may be even older, maybe early-Gothic. The church is an asymmetrical double-nave structure, with a tower in the south-west corner, and St. Anne’s chapel added in 1500. The main nave received a reticulated cross vault in the early 16th century, and the church was further adapted around 1600 (the addition of a porch in the southern side of the nave, changes to the tower), and then again in the 18th and 19th centuries. The northern side is dominated by a fragment of a 15th-century wall painting portraying 10,000 martyrs, while the southern porch shows biblical quotations adorned with Renaissance ornamental decorations from 1572, which were uncovered as late as 1921. The interior of the church is partly pre-18th-century Baroque, partly pseudo-Gothic: the main altar was made by the sculptor F. Rambler of Cáhlov in 1702 (the original design by the renowned master builder J.B. Fischer of Erlach had not been used). The centre of the main altar is occupied by a late-Gothic Madonna clad in a Baroque robe made of sheet metal. Other points of interest include a glass-covered tomb of 1768 below the altar, allegedly containing the skeleton of St. Innocent. The reliquary represents a typical example of Baroque pomposity, spiced with a trace of morbidity, common for the time. The sides of the main altar are adorned with two large late-19th-century stained-glass windows, made by the glassmaker Jan Quast for the World Exposition in Vienna and then presented to the church. They portray Jesus and Our Lady, slightly larger than life, and include a wealth of floral and architectural decoration. Both windows were restored in 2003-2004 by Monika Vitrová’s conservation studio.
Baroque atmosphere also radiates from the statue of St. John of Nepomuk, dating from 1721.
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