SAINT JACOBS CHURCH
The Saint Jacobs Church is one of the Baroque gems amongst Prague churches. It is located between the Old Town Square and the Republic Square. The establishment of the former church with a farmstead is probably related to the fact that a significant Czech King Přemysl Otakar II. acquired the relics of St. James by the end of the 12th century.
In 1232, the original church was torn down and the Minorite monastery, with the church, was built on its foundation. Its importance is mentioned in the Chronicle of Zbraslav, saying that the honorary feast of the coronation of Jan of Luxembourg (father of Charles IV) was held in the local refectory. After a devastating fire in the year 1316, the church was generously restored and, alongside the St. Vitus Cathedral, it was the centre of spiritual and social life during the reign of the Luxemburg dynasty. Before his burial, King Charles IV’s body was displayed at the Church of St. Jacob.
Today's Baroque appearance of the church is from the break of the 17th and 18th centuries. The Church of St. James has the longest nave, after the St. Vitus Cathedral. The three towers of the church served the pilgrims as a landmark on the way of St. Jacob to the Santiago de Compostella to the saint's tomb. The patron pilgrim, St. Jacob, is portrayed with a stick above the main entrance to the church. The rich interior of the church consists of twenty-one altars decorated with magnificent paintings by great painters of the time, such as J.Heinsch, Petr Brandl and V.V. Reine, who is the artist of the painting on the main altar "The Passion of St. Jacob." It is perhaps the most beautiful Baroque tomb made for Count Vratislav z Mitrovic, which was created on the basis of a proposal by Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, located in the church. Statues on the tomb were made by Maximilian Brokoff, the artist of some of the statues on the Charles Bridge. A masterpiece organ from the early 18th century, an original work of Abraham Stark z Lokte, and the great acoustics of the church are a prerequisite for organizing frequent concerts with unique atmosphere.
The church is connected with several legends. There is a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary to whom people brought valuable gifts. Once there was a thief, who had himself locked in the church over night to steal the gifts from Mary, but she caught his arm and he could not escape. In the morning, he was found in the church by the abbot. The thief’s hand was cut off and it was hung in the church to resemble the Ten Commandments. If you enter the church today, turn right and look up, and you will find that the legend is true.