The Church of Our Lady under Chain (Kostel Panny Marie pod řetězem in Czech) is a remarkable example of the early Gothic architecture in the Lesser Town of Prague. It is part of the large complex of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, who renewed their activity in our lands at the end of 1989. In the past the members of this very powerful Maltese Order called themselves Johanniters, by their patron St. John Baptist. The church, which is located between the streets Saská, Lázeňská and a square called Velkopřevorské náměstí, has several names. It is known as the church of Our Lady under Chain or church at “Bridge-End” and also as the church “at Maltese”. The gate of the monastery courtyard used to be locked by chain, which is why the word “chain” appears in the church name. The “bridge-end” name was used because the church, as one of the oldest Lesser Town churches, was located closest to the bridge of Judith (later the Charles Bridge). It was only later that the Saxon house was built here.
The original building was founded in the mid 13th century in place of a Romanesque basilica. The church was burned down twice. First during the Hussite riots in 1420, when the whole complex was gutted, and then again in 1503. The Baroque renovation of the church was carried out in 17th century probably by Carlo Lurago. So it happened that the church became only a shadow of its previous ancient splendour. Its gothic past can be seen in the western face of the building with two much reduced steeples. It is these steeples on the west side, only 32 metres high, that are referred to as “incomplete”. They were originally taller but after the blazes they were cut down. The mighty prismatic steeple-towers are crowned with pyramidal roofs. Their original gothic windows are walled up. The steeples are supported by corner pillars.
Inside the church there is Baroque furnishing, on the main altar there is an image of Madonna helping knights in the battle of Italian Lepanto (valuable masterpiece by Karel Škréta).
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