Church of Saint Thomas (Sv. Tomás)

Church of Saint Thomas (Sv. Tomás) (44)

The church of Saint Thomas owes its founding to King Wenceslas II, who ordered it to be built for the order of the Augustines. For centuries it has experienced disasters of all kinds but has remained standing and you can still admire it today.

It took almost one century to build the church of Saint Thomas, between 1285 and 1379. During the Hussite wars, it remained loyal to Catholicism, a reason why it suffered great damage. At the end of the 15th century it was rebuilt, but in 1541 it was razed by a fire. The misfortunes were not over, since fate decided that it would be struck by lightning in 1723.

For its reconstruction they called on the most-sought after architect of the time, Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer. He was entrusted with the re-design of the church between 1723 and 1731. The style, of course, is Baroque. Although it conserves its original structure, the only Gothic remaining here is the spire.

Outside, the beautiful façade is overlooked by a statue of Saint Augustine, work of Hieronymus Kohl in 1684.

Inside Baroque style reigns, with gilded Corinthian capitals, stuccos and mouldings. At the entrance you will come across two glass urns: they are the relics of Saint Just and Saint Boniface. The ceiling and the vaults are decorated with paintings by Václav Vavrinec Reiner in which the history of Saint Augustine is represented.

In the altar you will see some works by Rubens such as “The martyrdom of Saint Thomas” or a portrait of Saint Augustine. They are only reproductions, but don’t let that disappoint you. To see the originals you just need to go to the Sternberg Palace. In this altar there are also some sculptures by Anton Quitainer and Ferdinand Brokof.

The Quitainers, father and son, produced other sculptures for this church. In an altar of the left-hand nave you will find a statue of Saint Vitus with a rooster. The statues that are seen today are in wood since the originals, in silver, were melted down to finance the church reforms.

In the first altar on the right of the nave and to the right of the presbytery you will find paintings by Karel Skréta. This is a church that is intimately linked to art. In fact, the sculptor Adriaen de Vries and the architect Ottavio Aostalli are buried here. Both were members of the Court of Rudolf II.

Just as would be expected in a Baroque church, there is a massive organ that dates from 1751.

Very close by is the Saint Thomas beer hall, one of the oldest in Prague. It was the Augustine monks themselves who brewed the beer that was served in this tavern. They gained such fame for their brewing skills that they were appointed exclusive suppliers to Prague Castle. They say that Wenceslas IV liked coming here to enjoy a good glass of beer now and then.

And while the truth of this anecdote is not proven, why not sit down for a while at one of its tables and enjoy a pleasure worthy of kings?

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