On the Green Mountain, a forest-covered hill known by the Czech name of Zelená hora, stands one of the most original Christian churches in the Czech Republic: the Pilgrimage Church of St John of Nepomuk, famous for having five doors, five chapels, five altars and an unusually shaped five-pointed star floor plan.
Brilliantly designed by architect Jan Blažej Santini Aichel, it is a place of exceptional mysticism and one of the most successful examples of Gothic Baroque in Europe.
The reason for this obsession with the number five is linked to a legend about the life of the saint, an exciting story that we will tell you shortly.
To find out more visit this exceptional church, it will not fail to amaze you! And while you are there, also visit the nearby monastery, which houses the largest Book Museum in the world.
The Czech saint John of Nepomuk is revered as a martyr who refused to betray the confessional secret.
According to a legend, St John refused to reveal the Queen’s confession to King Wenceslas IV. The king, furious, had the confessor thrown off Prague’s Charles Bridge. When the body of the drowned confessor came to the surface, five stars miraculously appeared in the sky as if to indicate the place of martyrdom.
The Church of St John of Nepomuk in Zelená hora was founded on the initiative of Václav Vejmluva, an abbot of the Cistercian monastery in Žďár who was a fervent devotee of the martyred saint.
Construction began in 1719 and was completed in 1721. The project was entrusted to architect Jan Blažej Santini Aichel, who skilfully exploited the legend of the five stars, ignoring the traditional rules of construction of religious buildings.
The church has a complex symbolism, with the symbol of stars and the number five appearing in countless variations and multiplications: five doors, five chapels, five altars; on the high altar, in the centre, shine five stars.
The entire complex is also studded with mysteries and mystical symbols. Legendary is the entrance to a secret corridor that supposedly connected the church to the monastery in the nearby Žďár Palace, long searched for by art historians but never found.
On the 16th of each month, the shrine of John of Nepomuk is made available to the public in the evening from 7 p.m. as a place for meditation, contemplation, prayer or spiritual reflection. This monthly event is called “Nicodemus Night”, named after the disciple of Jesus.
The parish priests are available for confessions and to give spiritual advice, but the church is open to anyone who simply needs silence, solitude and a less obtrusive light.
Zelená hora is located about 4 km from the railway station in Žďár nad Sázavou and is connected by a city bus service. The train journey from Prague to Žďár nad Sázavou takes about two and a half hours if you take the direct train, a little longer if you have to change.
The journey by car via the D1 motorway takes less than two hours.
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.