In the Footsteps of the Baroque

Although the Bohemian Paradise is exceptionally rich in objects of architectural heritage of many different styles and periods, the Baroque period left the most pronounced marks in the expensive constructional enterprises of the aristocracy as well as dozens of churches and chapels built in the period of re-Catholicisation. Numerous examples of civic architecture from the 18th century as well as folk architecture have also been preserved. The landscape and village greens are decorated with chapels, wayside crosses and sculptures by folk artists.

The Church of St. Francis of Assisi belonged to the Franciscan monastery. It was built by Maximilian von Wallenstein from 1651 to 1657, renewed after a fire in 1707 and received an Empire-style design after another fire in 1803. Its interior houses Baroque-style equipment and paintings by J.J. Hertl. These can also be found in St. Nicolas's Church, reconstructed in the Baroque style in 1722. The civic architecture is represented by the unique house U Zlatého bažanta, which nowadays houses a museum. The town of Turnov information centre holds regular guided tours of Turnov churches from June to September.

Mnichovo Hradiště
The centre of a former vast dominion boasts a chateau, a residence of the Counts of Wallenstein with a park and a salla terrena. The park is adjoined by a Capuchin monastery with the Church of the Three Philosophers (where the tomb of Albrecht von Wallenstein is situated) and St. Ann's Chapel with valuable sculptures by the Jelíneks of Kosmonosy and paintings by J. J. Hertl. Nowadays a lapidarium of Baroque sculptures. Several Baroque-style houses are still preserved in the square. St. James's Church.

As we pass Osek with its typical wooden belfry, we enter Sobotka, a picturesque little town with a well-preserved historical centre. The town square boasts a Marian sculptural group and houses from the 18th and 19th century. Late Gothic-style Church of St. Mary Magdalene. The Černíns built Humprecht, a hunting chateau designed by Carl Lurag, from 1667 - 1681.

The Church of the Elevation of the Holy Cross built from 1772 to 1797 is the region's most important late Baroque building. It received Rococo-style equipment in the 19th century. The surroundings of the church are decorated by sculptures of saints and the Baroque-style presbytery. The hill of Veliš, visible from afar, will lead us to a village of the same name with the Church of St. Václav.

The Baroque-style houses in the square are overlooked by the Wallenstein Chateau, a vast early Baroque complex with three arcade courtyards. The Church of St. James the Greater, which was intended to be the bishop's cathedral in Wallenstein's residential town, is situated nearby. However, this project was not completed after the duke's death. Visitors should not miss paintings by I. Raab and J. Kramolin. The sepulchral chapel of the Virgin Mary de Sales, built in the same epoch, has also been preserved until now. When we reach the end of the alley towards Valdice, we will arrive in a park with a loggia and Libosad, a court of honour. This road originally continued as far as the Carthusian monastery, which is nowadays used as a prison.

Lomnice nad Popelkou
Not far from the town square with typical civic architecture and Baroque-style Marian statue group, there is an inconspicuous church, St. Nicholas's Church from 1782. The interior features the origjnal equipment. The pilgrimage chapel of the Transfiguration of Jesus was built above the town. Outside mass times these churches are only accessible for organised groups who have to book in advance.

The Church of the Visitation of Blessed Virgin Mary is the second most important pilgrimage place of the entire region, after Stará Boleslav. This early-Baroque church built from 1690 to 1693 features valuable equipment from the mid-18th century and fresco decorations. The perimeter of the church features sculptures of saints from the 18th and 19th century. The tower houses a museum of sacral objects and an observation tower.

Železný Brod
We should first go to the small square with citizens' houses built at the turn of the 18th and 19th century in Železný Brod. Then we will walk up the stairs decorated with sculptures towards the Church of St. James the Greater with a wooden bellfry. The main town square with sculpture of Mary offers a view of the chapel of St. John "In the desert" with the tomb of the counts Des Fours. On our way to Turnov we will inspect Bouček's farm in Malá Skála and Dlask's farm in Dolánky, folk architecture inspired by the Baroque style.

Premium tip: Valdštejn and Hrubá Skála
We will drive from Turnov towards Jičín. We will pass the reconstructed manor house of Valdštejnsko on our left. We will turn right to the chateau of Hrubá Skála impressively situated over a steep face of rock. Its Baroque shape is nowadays preserved only in the stone bridge with the statues of St. Florian and St. Vavřinec. Then we will walk past the Aehrental arboretum and after 3 km we will eventually arrive at the castle of Valdštejn.

The Wallensteins built a Baroque-style chapel of St. John of Nepomuk on medieval ruins between 1722 and 1728. This chapel is approached up an arched staircase decorated with Baroque statues of saints by the Jelíneks of Kosmonosy. The painting of St. John the Baptist in the chapel in the first courtyard is said to be a portrait of K. H. Mácha. After we return to Hrubá Skála, we will go to Vyskeř, where we can admire a characteristic wooden belfry (1750) in steep contrast to the pompous Neo-Roman style Church of the Virgin Mary and eight-sided chapel from the early 19th century with a calvary above the village. We will return to Turnov via Kacanovy.


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