Written by Linda Hettlerova
The Benedictine Monastery was founded by Prince Vladislav I in 1115. It was established in a sparsely-inhabited landscape located in today’s Pilsen Region and was provided with an enormous estate. The first Czech monks were soon accompanied with the missionaries from the Swabian town Zwiefalten, who had a great influence on the development and events of the Kladruby monastery. In 1233 the church was sanctified in King Wenceslas I´s presence.
The cloister buildings were originally made of wood, and it appears they were replaced by a stone Romanesque basilica around the second half of the 12th century. With a length of 282 feet, it was the longest Romanesque basilica in Bohemia. At the turn of the 13th and again at the 14th century, the cloister was further renovated and developed. The monastery expanded its property as its power and significance grew. However, Kladruby became a place of conflict for the country’s dignitaries. John of Nepomuk was persecuted and tortured to death for confirming the new Kladruby abbot in 1393. Today an exhibition is devoted to him in the monastery, but it is not available to the public due to ongoing renovation. Unfortunately, the Hussite movement starting in the 15th century, followed by a great fire and the Thirty Years War, caused devastating damage to the monastery. The convent rehabilitated its property and secured its position during the 17th century. In 1726 the remodelling of the church conducted by Jan Blažej Santini-Aichel was completed, giving the monastery its Czech Baroque Gothic-style look. The rebuilt Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, with its 150-foot-high dome topped by a golden Marian crown, is considered one of the domain’s most impressive features. Another important building is the New Convent built by Kilián Ignaz Dientzenhofer in 1770. In 1785 Emperor Joseph II dissolved the Benedictine order. Its estates were sold off, and the monks dispersed. After that, the buildings served numerous purposes, mostly military ones. From 1825 to 1945 the Windischgrätz family became the owners of the monastery ground. They established a brewery and built a large library in the New Convent. The Kladruby monastery was open to the public in 1967, after having been taken over by the Regional Conservation Office. Since the 1970s there have been ongoing reconstructions.
Today the Kladruby monastery offers a guided tour, holds concerts, and hosts the Kladruby Summer Music Festival.