Knights of the Cross Square

Křižovnické náměstí, Knights of the Cross Square, is a nondescript but interesting square right in the centre of Prague. Even though most visitors to Prague have seen this tiny square and have often walked across it, they never noticed it. But when you ask them: ‘Have you seen the sailor touts selling boat trips?’ it turns out that everyone has seen these pseudo-sailors. They accost tourists at Křižovnické náměstí, Knights of the Cross Square, adjacent to Charles Bridge. The Knights of the Cross Square offers the best view of Prague Castle and therefore it is photographers’ delight.

Knights of the Cross Square

Knights of the Cross Square with a View

The name of the square, Knights of the Cross,  refers to the Bohemian Order of Knights with the Red Star who settled in Prague in the thirteenth century. Their task was to keep the bridge in good condition and collect tolls. The best view of Prague Castle is from Křižovnické náměstí and for that reason alone it is worth the effort to walk across this tiny square before ambling across Charles Bridge. The square itself is best seen from the Vltava River om board of one of the river cruise boats.

Knights of the Cross Square

Charles IV at Knights of the Cross Square

In the middle of the square stands a large bronze statue of Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, which was placed here in 1848. It was the first statue in Prague to mark the 500th anniversary of Charles University. In his right hand the Emperor is holding the Golden Bull, the most important constitutional document of the Holy Roman Empire. That is the usual view. Now stand at the corner of Křižovnické náměstí and Křižovnicka ulice and keep the Church of St Francis on your right. The document of state now shows a banal posture and reminds of ‘Manneken Pis’ (the little pissing boy) in Brussels.

Knights of the Cross Square

Knights of the Red Cross

The order of the Knights of the Red Cross had its monastery at the entrance to Charles Bridge. This male order was of Czech origin and founded by St. Agnes of Bohemia in 1233.
In 1942 the gestapo occupied the monastery and after the nazi occupation the communist regime attempted to eliminate the order. The Knights of the Red Cross went into exile in Vienna and in 1998 the Order resumed its activities in the Czech Republic.

Daily routine in the hospital according to a report of notary Vaclav Lochkovsky in 1736

Monday – Saturday

5.00 – wake up
6.00 – morning worship
07.00 – Holy Mass
12.00 – lunch
13.00 – worship
18.00 – dinner
19.00 – worship

Sunday – spiritual discourse

Work was optional, in summer 8-10 hours daily at the vineyard, farm or in the garden. The cells were room soberly furnished with a bed, a table and a wardrobe. Meals were also simple: soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner was a two-course meal with soup and a meat dish and served with 0,5 litre of beer and 0,25 litre wine on festive days.

Knights of the Cross Square

Church of the Holy Saviour

The Church of the Holy Saviour is a beautiful building and easy to spot as its balustrade is adorned with vases and statues. The church belonged to the Jesuits and was part of the Klementinum, the former Jesuit monastery in Prague. This monastery extends around five courtyards and within the grounds there are three churches, making it the largest historical complex in Prague. Today, the Klementinum is home to the university library and houses more than five million books.

Church of St Francis of Assisi

The Church of St Francis of Assisi was built for the Czech Order of the Knights with the Red Star. Step inside and admire the beautiful baroque interior and look up at the cupola with the painting of the Last Judgement. Antonin Dvorak, the famous Czech composer, worked in this church as an organist.

Old Bridge Tower

The Old Town’s Tower Bridge is the jewel of Křižovnické náměstí. This Gothic tower now serves as a gateway to Charles Bridge but was originally one of the towers to defend the city against invaders. Climb the tower for a magnificent view of the Prague and Charles Bridge.


Photos Marianne Crone

Knights of the Cross Square
Knights of the Cross Square

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