The legend says that Loreta (in Italian Santa Casa) was a house where St. Mary was living when the angel appeared to her. During the battles with Saracens (at the end of 13th century) this building was taken apart and transported over the Mediterranean Sea to Italy, to a small city called Loreto, where it was reconstructed. As you can imagine, it quickly became a popular pilgrimage site. The fame of Santa Casa reached its peak in the 16th century, when different renaissance copies of this building were built all across Europe. And that brings us to the story of Loreta in Prague.
Prague’s Loreta was built between 1626-1631. The money for construction was donated by Kateřina Benigna of Lobkowicz, a noble lady from one of the most powerful families in the Czech kingdom. It took another forty years to build the surrounding cloisters, which were remodeled in the 18th century by probably the most famous baroque architect in Prague – Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer.
There are two more things, for which is Loreta famous. In the highest tower of Loreta is a baroque chime, which was installed in year 1694. It contains 27 bells, which you can hear playing on every hour.
Inside this complex you can find a very important treasure room, which displays the treasures of Prague’s Loreta. It’s mostly a collection of different church items, from which stands out a collection of monstrances (or ostensoriums, these are the lamp-like containers used in church ceremonies). The most famous one is called “Prague Sun” or “the Diamond Monstrance”. It’s an 89 centimeter tall silver monstrance, covered in gold, which is decorated with 6222 diamonds. You’ve probably never seen this many diamonds in one place!
So if you happened to walk by Loreta and you’d like to see one of the greatest treasures of our country, get a ticket and take a walk through this amazing monastery.
Info on Prague’s Loreta:
Address: Loretánské náměstí 7, Prague
Map.Ref.: 50.0892958, 14.3917578
Opening hours: Daily from 9am to 5pm
Tickets: 150 CZK adults, 110 CZK students