Church of Saints Peter and Paul
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The parish Church of Sts Peter and Paul is shaded by the crowns of large linden trees in the middle of the former Bohnice settlement. The church is one of the oldest Christian houses of prayer in Bohemia. In the first historical account of the church, an original parchment document held today in the Prague City Archives, Prague Bishop Daniel confirms that on 30 May 1158 he placed the remains of saints in the altar stone as proof of the consecration of the church. He also added the names of King Vladislav, Queen Jitka and, as the founder of the church, Vyšehrad Provost Gervasio. It is interesting that the consecration of the Bohnice church took place shortly before the beginning of the famous military campaign against Milan; in all likelihood there is a direct connection between the two.
The church was originally a single-aisled rectangular structure with a semi-circular apse on its east side, built from regular tufa stone in uniform rows, as was the custom at the time. The church was originally consecrated only to St Peter. The consecration of churches to this prince of the apostles was very common in the first centuries following the arrival of Christianity in Bohemia; besides churches devoted to the Virgin Mary and St Clement commemorating the locations of the first missions of Cyril and Methodius, churches named after St Peter were perhaps the most common. The dedication to St Paul was probably added during the 14th century. The first mention of an independent parish is in the description of the Prague diocese compiled under Archbishop Arnošt of Pardubice between 1344 and 1350.
The Thirty Years’ War brought material and spiritual poverty to the Czech lands and the country, including numerous churches, was ravaged by foreign armies. When an inventory of all real estate was compiled between 1653 and 1655 to establish tax duties, the church in Bohnice was listed as abandoned. In the 17th century the church was administered by the Virgin Mary before Týn and the Virgin Mary of the Snow. The oldest preserved registry book, containing interesting information on artists performing decorative work on Troja Chateau, also dates to this period.
The independent Bohnice parish was finally re-established in 1736 and the towns of Přední Ovenec (Bubeneč), Zadní Ovenec (Troja), Podhoř, Podbaba and Lysolaje were added. In 1805 the 11th century church was reconstructed into today’s Late Baroque appearance. The original masonry was partially utilised in the new building; this material was discovered beneath the plaster several years ago along both sides of the nave and left revealed for visitors to admire.
The reconstruction is architecturally important in that besides the Church of St Gothard in Bubeneč, it is the only church in the Prague territory dating to the turn of the 19th century. Particularly noteworthy is the reconstruction of the church interior performed by architect František Kotrba and his wife, academic painter Vilma Vrbová in the mid-20th century; Vrbová is responsible for a modern Stations of the Cross, paintings on the sanctuary and much more. The Bohnice church is a successful combination of the historic and the modern.