1 Chrám Svatého Mikuláe (St Nicholas's Church)
3 Katedrála Svatého Víta (St Vitus's Cathedral)
5 Praský Hrad (Prague Castle)
6 Staroměstská Radnice (Old Town Hall)
7 Šternberský Palác (Sternberg Palace)
8 Strahovský Kláter (Strahov Monastery)
9 Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Square)
10 Veletrní Palác (Veletrzny Palace)
This pretty baroque shrine has been a place of pilgrimage since 1626, when it was endowed by a Bohemian noblewoman, Kateřina of Lobkowicz.
The Loreta shrine was inspired by a medieval legend. In 1278, so the story goes, the Virgin Mary's house in Nazareth was miraculously transported by angels to Loreto in Italy and thus saved from the Infidel. The Marian cult became an important propaganda weapon of the Counter-Reformation and, following the defeat of the Protestants at the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620, some 50 other Loreto shrines were founded in Bohemia and Moravia.The heart of the Loreta is the Santa Casa, a replica of the Virgin's relocated house. Sumptuously decorated, it incorporates a beam and several bricks from the Italian original. On the silver altar (behind a grille) is a small ebony statue of the Virgin. The rich stucco reliefs, depicting scenes from the lives of the prophets, are by Italian artists. The much larger Church of the Nativity was designed by Kilian Dientzenhofer in 1734-5, with ceiling frescos by Václav Reiner and Johann Schöpf. Less edifying are the gruesome remains of saints Felecissimus and Marcia, complete with wax death masks. The cloisters, originally 17th century but with an upper storey added by Dientzenhofer in the 1740s, once provided overnight shelter for pilgrims. In the corner chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows is a diverting painting of St Starosta, a bearded lady who prayed for facial hair to put off an unwanted suitor, only to be crucified by her thwarted father. The Loreta treasury has a famed collection of vestments and other religious objects, including a diamond monstrance made in Vienna in 1699, which glitters with 6,200 precious stones.
Address: Loretánské náměstí, Praha 1
Phone: 2451 0780
Open: Tue-Sun 9-noon, 1-4:30
Other: Strahovský kláter