Friday, May 23, 2014

Day 5: Religion in Czech Republic

It is very interesting to see how other countries adopt religious practices and how the degree of their religiosity changes over time due to a wide array of factors.  Many impressive churches were built in Prague before the 19th Century, however today many are being used for concert halls than for religious functions.  One example in particular is St. Nicholas Cathedral which we happened to stumble upon in our search for Prague Castle.  St. Nicholas Cathedral sells tickets for 70 CZH to enter their church with a nun taking the money at the front gate. The immaculate church with multiple small altars and an impressive large altar covered in gold is a sign of how important religion was to the Czech during this time period. An interesting history of this church is that it was originally built by the Eastern Orthodox Church, but they were kicked out and the Catholics established the church for themselves.  The church might have Sunday masses however when we were there more were gazing up at the gold plated angels than praying.   The Czech people lost much of their religious identity during their Communist Era from 1945-89 as the Communists banned religion and that is one reason why many of the old churches today are being used as concert halls for classical performers.  Another religious complex that is no longer being inhabited by religious peoples is the St. Thomas Monastery in Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic.  The monks fled Brno during the 1950s as the Communists forced them to escape to Austria to allow for them to keep practicing their faith.  The monastery today is better known for a monk who lived their during the later half of the 1850s and that is Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics.  Mendel grew his pea plants in a garden inside the monastery's gates and today the Mendel Museum operates in a building that was once a classroom that he once taught in.  Another impressive church in Prague that is used for a different purpose today is St. Vilnius Cathedral at Prague Castle.  Today this church is a tourist attraction as the grounds it sits on claims to be the largest Castle complex in the world.  The church is of the Gothic style and is much older than the St. Nicholas Cathedral and plays an important cultural role for the Czech people.  Below are pictures of the St. Thomas Monastery, St. Vilnius Cathedral, and St. Nicholas Cathedral.

No comments:

Post a Comment