Church Night opens up some hidden places

Many religious buildings will be open to the general public

Many churches in Prague, as well as across the Czech Republic, will be open on the night of May 25 for this year's Church Night (Noc kostelů 2018), a project to make the places more accessible to the general public.

The participating places include not only historical Roman Catholic churches but also prayer rooms and chapels for other Christian faiths. Some 1,506 places are participating across the country. In Prague, there are over 160 places of worship that will be open.

As with similar events like Museum Night, lines at some places can be long while at others there is no waiting. Some places also have elaborate programs while others let you explore on your own.

The event starts at 6 pm and goes to 11 pm, though some places are open for shorter times.

This is the 10th edition of the event in Prague, and new for this year the St George Convent (Klášter svatého Jiří ) at Prague Castle will be participating from 6 pm to 9 pm. St Vitus' Cathedral is open from 6 pm to 9:30 pm. The reduced time is for security reasons at Prague Castle.

Some of the oldest buildings in Prague are participating —the rotundas, or round churches, on Karoliny Světlé street and in Vyšehrad. The are about 1,000 years old, give or take. They are small but full of history. Some faded paintings can be seen on the walls. They were built around, historians say, to prevent the Devil from hiding in the corner.

On the other end of the spectrum, many modern churches and prayer houses are the work of significant 20th century architects. The Sacred Heart Church at náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad in Prague 3 was built during the First Republic by Slovenian architect Josip Plečnik, who also worked on the modern parts of Prague Castle.

The Church of St Wenceslas in Prague 10 was by Josef Gočár, who also designed the cubist-style House of the Black Madonna near Old Town Square and large sections of Hradec Králové.

For people interested in relics, the Basilica of Sts Peter and Paul at Vyšehrad has a bone from St Valentine in a glass case, and the alleged empty stone coffin of one of the saints who was at the Crucifixion. The entire bodies of some saints and near-saints can be see in the Church of St Thomas in Malá Strana and Church of St Benedict near Prague Castle, where the mummy of Mother Elekta is in a glass case. (Photos are not permitted of her.)

The Basilica of St James, not far from Old Town Square at Malá Štupartská, is the city's second-largest church, and boasts — aside from a lavish interior — the severed hand of a thief hanging from the wall and an elaborate tomb where the occupant according to legend was buried alive by accident.

The Church of Our Lady Victorious in Malá Strana, known for its wax Infant of Prague statue, will be highlighting instead its valuable paintings by Petr Brandl.

The Church of Our Lady of the Snow, just behind Wenceslas Square, will have tours of some parts that are not generally open to the public including an area a reliquary ark containing the remains of 14 martyrs.

Also near Wenceslas Square, the Church of St Henry (Jindřich), aside for tours and organ music will have wine and cheese in the basement.

These are just some of the events. Be sure to check the schedule, as some tours are only at specific times, and some churches will be having concerts or organized prayers at certain times, making sightseeing a bit awkward.

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