Monday, October 31, 2011

St Agnes Convent, Old Town, Prague

This next entry is difficult to write and accordingly I will send a second message about this rather special place. The complex of buildings today date back to the C13, and include the original cloister walks, three chapels confusingly sited together, plus some other convent buildings. It belonged to the Poor Clares, and did not survive the various troubles unscathed and was indeed rebuilt on several occasions including lastly a baroque makeover. However towards the end of the C18 the convent was closed and the buildings fell into disrepair and became workshops and stores. It was even proposed at one time to demolish the entire site. From 1940 there has been careful restoration and de-/re-construction, and today it houses a collection of medieval art from across Central Europe, although mainly from Bohemia and Moravia. The largest church is that of St Salvator with nave and lower apsidal chancel, then adjoining the nave to the south west is that of Our Lady, smaller also with an apse, and to the west of both are the remains of the church of St Francis. The first two churches have been restored back to a medieval appearance and are devoid of furnishings. The latter church has a modern sloping beamed roof and concrete gable, and is a large space often used for concerts. I do not normally like museums but some of the exhibits here are truely stunning, and nearly all have been collected here by the National Gallery from churches across the country. Statues, paintings and reliefs show the stylistic changes over three centuries. I will send a second post of uncaptioned exhibits, but including a haunting depiction of the platter with the head of John the Baptist and the handsome bust reliquary of St Wenceslas himself; who is shown of a similar appearance in all pictures and statues I saw.

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