Monday, April 14, 2014

Church of Our Lady before Tyn - Prague

The Church of Our Lady before Tyn, also translated Church of Our Lady in front of Tyn and Church of Mother of God in front of Tyn, dominates the skyline near Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic. It is surrounded by tall buildings, but then looms up behind and above them, Godzilla-like.
Church of Our Lady before Tyn
Yet ironically, it is almost impossible to find. The entrance is on the west side through a narrow passage between the buildings in front of the church. We walked around the church at least once trying to find a way in, incredulous that the entrance to such a dominating structure could be so hard to find. Unfortunately, we never found it open and were not able to go inside. 
Tyn Church, viewed from the tower of Old Town Hall. The north tower (Eve) is to the left, the south tower (Adam) to the right.
Old Town Hall is to the left and Tyn Church looms up at the far end of Old Town Square.
The Tyn, which Our Lady is before, or in front of, is Tyn Courtyard, which was established in the 11th century as a customs office and trading center for foreign merchants. It is located behind the church and currently houses shops, restaurants and hotels and is often referred to by to its German name, Ungelt, which means "customs duty." 

The church was originally Romanesque and built in the 11th century for the foreign merchants visiting the Tyn Courtyard. It was replaced in 1256 by a Gothic structure. The current structure was started in the 14th century. The Hussites took control of the church in the 15th century and retained it for about two centuries, including the period when the towers and roof were still being built in the 1450s. George of Podebrady, King of Bohemia and only Hussite king, had his sculpture placed on the gable between the completed north spire, and the not yet completed south spire, below a huge golden chalice, the symbol of the Hussites. It replaced a Latin cross. The south tower was completed in 1511. In 1626, after the Battle of White Mountain, an early battle in the Thirty Years' War between the Bohemians and the Holy Roman Emperor and German Catholic League, the Jesuits, who took control of the church, removed the sculpture of King George and the chalice and replaced them with a sculpture of Our Lady with a giant halo, all made out of the melted down chalice. 
Our Lady and the giant halo on the gable between the two towers. 
The two towers are not identical. The smaller northern tower is called "Eve," and the taller southern tower is called "Adam." Legend has it that Tyn gave Walt Disney the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle.
The two towers.
Tokyo Disney. You can see how the towers of Tyn Church could have been inspiration for Disney. 

1 comment:

  1. I wish we had found a way in. On-line pictures show a very dark, black-and-white interior. If the outside was the inspiration for Disney's castle, maybe the inside was the inspiration for the Haunted Mansion.