Pilgrimage Church of St. John of Nepomuk at Zelená hora
The pilgrimage church, dedicated to St. John of Nepomuk, was built in the early 1820s. It is the finest work of the architect Jan Blažej Santini and is the most original example of the so-called baroque gothic style. It was built on a five-pointed star plan and is surrounded by a cemetery and cloisters.
The pilgrimage Church of St. John of Nepomuk near the monastery in Žďár was built thanks to the longtime, close and immensely fruitful cooperation of two extraordinary people. The impulse was given by Václav Vejmluva, an abbot of the Cistercian monastery in Žďár, who was a proven devotee of John of Nepomuk before he was beatified as well as after he was canonized. The preparation of the project dates back to the period from late April to the beginning of August 1719 and is considered a direct reaction of the abbot to the discovery of preserved tissue in the tomb of John of Nepomuk in the St. Vitus Cathedral on 15 April 1719. The design of the building was entrusted to famous architect Jan Blažej Santini-Aichel to whom abbot Vejmluva is alleged to have presented his ideas about the new sanctuary and the symbols used, which was fully compliant with the requirement of the Church: “Fathers propose, artists create“. The architect then worked on the basis of the outline. Santini dealt with the project quite individually, without any respect to the traditions concerning the shapes of religious buildings; he only accepted the contemporary viewpoint of the structure of a pilgrimage destination. The architect melted the abbot´s idea of the church in which the main role was to be played by the pattern of a star, into an extraordinarily impressive form which was only appreciated by the modern time, yet not always. Friedrich Radnitzký, a member of the Central Committee, referred to the church as a "visually mysterious phenomenon" as late as 1886. The project was finished unusually quickly but this was nothing exceptional for Santini. Moreover, the abbot and the architect had cooperated together for many years and they were both specialists on symbology and the teaching of the Cabala which they used to a substantial extent in the project. Santini knew very well what the abbot wanted from him. Thus the resulting architecture must have been affected positively by the atmosphere of mutual understanding. The definitive shape of the building does not differ much from the first design and only a few changes were made.