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Hidden Gem: The Pilgrimage Church of St. John of Nepomuk

This pilgrimage church, built in honor of St John of Nepomuk, a 14th-century martyr canonized in the 18th century, stands at Zelená Hora, not far from Ždár nad Sázavou in Moravia.

Constructed at the beginning of the 18th century on a star-shaped plan, it is the most unusual work by the great architect Jan Blazej Santini, whose highly original style falls between neo-Gothic and Baroque. The composition of the property is based on the aesthetic concept of a perfect central complex with an explicit central vertical dominant. 

The symbolic five

The layout of the building has mystical aspects mentioned in the even at the time when it was complete. The basic principle is the composition of the five-pointed star (five-pointed ground plan, five entrances, five altar niches, twenty-five chapels around a central space, five stars and five angels on the high altar), the symbol not only of the five wounds of Christ, but also of the five letters in the Latin word „tacui“ (I kept silent) and above all the five stars in the halo of the martyr St. John of Nepomuk, which the legend tells us were seen above his drowned body.

The purpose of the church, which was financed by the Cistercian monastery, was to glorify John of Nepomuk, whose canonization took place at the time the church started being built, as a mighty patron and saint. 

The Pilgrimage Church of St. John of Nepomuk at Zelená hora in Žďár nad Sázavou is the national Cultural Monument which has been entered in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List since 1994. 

Author: red

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