Capuchin Square Attracts with a Beautiful View on Petrov Cathedral, Picturesque Bishop’s Courtyard, and Mummified Monks

Capuchin Square is located between the Central Station and Cabbage square in Brno. The square is one of the most-visited tourist attractions with a view of Petrov cathedral, several modern cafes, and the medieval church with a crypt situated underneath – holding dozens of mummified monks. Photo credit: KK.

Capuchin Square

Capuchin Square [Kapucínské náměstí] is located around the corner from the main train station of Brno, near the Cabbage Market [Zelný Trh]. The square was mentioned in historic books as “forum Carbonum” in 14th century. Today, the small square is home to several pubs, cafes, and bars for those who want to eat out and enjoy the great atmosphere of the square. The location of Capuchin Square gives a great opportunity to locals and tourists to see and discover many beautiful places while walking through the square.

The roof of a building on the corner of Masarykova Street and Capuchin Square features a remarkable sculpture of three crowing roosters. It is a reminder of the pub called “U Tří Kohoutů” (The Three Roosters) that was on this site at the end of the 18th century.

The square offers great views to its visitors, such as the towers of Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul [Katedrála sv. Petra a Pavla], the balconies of the Bishop’s Courtyard [Biskupský dvůr], and the Church of the Discovery of the Holy Cross, [Kostel Nalezení sv. Kříže], which is a part of the monastery.

The Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul [Katedrála sv. Petra a Pavla] is located on Petrov hill in the city centre of Brno. It is a national cultural monument, and one of the most important pieces of architecture in South Moravia. The interior is mostly Baroque in style, while the impressive 84-metre-high towers were constructed with the Gothic Revival designs of the architect August Kirstein in 1904-1905.

The Bishop’s Courtyard [Biskupský dvůr] is the oldest part of the Moravian museum, which has been located there since 1818. Situated at the foot of St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral – Brno’s landmark – the building exteriors are very photogenic. The architectural core of the courtyard is originally a provost‘s residence with a gothic tower and a chapel with frescoes. The renaissance arcades were built by an Italian architect, Antonio Gabriwere. Today, the Moravian museum hosts two permanent exhibitions: Fauna of Moravia, and Aquarium with Freshwater Fishes. The adjacent Dietrichsteinský palác on Zelný trh offers exhibitions mainly about history and culture of Moravia from prehistoric times, including fossils and minerals.

Mercury Fountain or “Fountain of Four Elements” once decorated náměstí Svobody, where it was located near Běhounská and Kobližná Streets. The fountain was built in the years 1693-1699 by sculptor Ignatius Jan Bendl and it replaced the original Renaissance fountain by Jiří Gialdi. The polygonal fountain base was crowned by a sculpture that depicted two male characters – probably the symbols of Svitava and Svratka rivers flowing through Brno – a nymph, holding the corner of abundance as a symbol of wealth; and on the top, the character of Mercury as a symbol of trade. Another interpretation, however, speaks of four elements: The volcano is to be a symbol of Fire, Neptune as a symbol of Water, Ceres as a symbol of Earth, and Mercury as a symbol of Air. After several extensive restoration works, in 1867 the entire fountain was canceled and the sculpture was donated to today’s Moravian Museum, which is currently located in the Bishop’s Courtyard.

Mummies in Brno? Visit Capuchin Crypt and Church and See for Yourself

“As you are now, we once were; as we are now, you shall be.”

…Reads one of the famous writings, common to Capuchin crypts all over the world, above the mummified monks.

Photo: Inside the crypt. Credit: Markéta Jedličková.

Bodies of dozens of monks are laid to rest in the crypt. The monks placed their deceased friars over a period of 300 years. The Capuchin crypt of Brno is known as a funeral room especially for Capuchin friars, members of the Capuchin Order, benefactors of the Order, and the prominent people. Katerina Hlouchová of Capuchin crypt explains: ‘‘The crypt was part of every capuchin monastery, and from the beginning, it had been serving as final resting place for their brothers, and also for people who helped them, and those who wanted to be with friars also in death. The benefactors were men or women who helped the friars solve the mundane affairs that were related to the operation of the monastery. They were called ‘parens spiritualis’, or in case of women, ‘mater spiritualis’.”

The probably most famous “inhabitant” of the crypt is a famous European mercenary commander Baron Trenck, also known as “Devil Trenck”. What does “Devil Trenck” have in common with the Capuchin monks? The Špilberk prison in Brno. They met there in mid 18th century. Baron Trenck was a prisoner sentenced to the life imprisonment and a Capuchin Friar was his confessor. Trenck finished his testament, in which among other things, also included the Capuchins – he donated four thousand gold to them.

Photo: Inside the crypt. Credit: Markéta Jedličková.

“Capuchin friars were helping as preachers and confessors, and they were the ‘Penitent Order’; they tried to be a brother to everyone, and they helped those who needed it. They ran a weaving and carpentry workshop, they even produced medicines,’’ said Hlouchová. Penitent orders supported those who had committed serious sins and confessed to the Bishop or his representative. The sinners were assigned a penance that was to be carried out over a period of time. After completing their penance (typically pilgrimages to holy sites, renovating churches, or caring for the poor and sick) they were reconciled by the Bishop with a prayer of absolution.

The bodies of these buried people were transformed into mummies due to the geological composition of the ground and the air system. Due to hygiene issues, this practice was banned in the end of the 18th century. The last bodies were buried here around 1780.

Capuchin Church is, as its name suggests, situated on Capuchin Square. Next to the church stands the monastery. This Baroque Capuchin crypt was built by architect, Mořic Grimm and the front side of the church is decorated with Baroque sculptures by Jan Adam Nessman in 1765.

Today, the mummies are a tourist attraction as well as a scientific research area.The crypt is considered one of the most interesting and famous sites to visit in Brno and is open daily throughout the year, except during Christmas and Easter.

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