Rosa Coeli – the mysterious Gothic

It had been some time having this trip on my mind. I had seen many beautiful pictures of this magic place and had read positive recommendations for visiting, but still was being busy  to make this trip until one day. I had not planned it, I just woke up, looked through the window and saw a beautiful sunny day after a long winter so I could not have stayed at home. The decision was made. This was the day when I wanted to see the famous Rosa Coeli.

It took us only 20 minutes driving when we reached Dolní Kounice town. From the first sight when arriving the town, we were pleasantly surprised of what we saw. I had not made any research before of this place so I did not know what to expect. Dolní Kounice is a town situated in the valley of Jihlava river which history dates to the ancient time of the Roman Empire. The town was in the subject of interest of wealthy aristocrats and tradesmen and this can be seen and felt on every corner.

It was beginning of the spring and we met only few tourists at the entrance to the ruins of the convent. You may visit the convent accompanied by a guide or you can visit it individually with texts. For taking photos you need to pay extra 30 CZK, but I think it is not expensive comparing fees in the famous castles and chateaux. We decided for a guided tour. Still having 30 minutes to the start we explored the areal on our own. I was so much excited of what I saw that I was not able to stop making photos. Those who know me, that I prefer to admire objects through eyes rather than through camera, would be surprised to see me ?

Today’s entrance to the convent is via the portal of the cathedral, but the original first entrance was via three nave basilica which was converted into a block with a cloister in the midst when the adjacent Gothic cathedral was built. The convent was founded by the lord of the name of Vilem Pulin and it was an act of the redemption for his offences against Austrians whom he had made damages on their properties during the conflict over the right of possession of border lands. Roman Pope cursed him for these offences.

Rosa Coeli entrance
Rosa Coeli nave

The construction of the original basilica started in 1181 and first nuns of the Premonstratensian order came here in 1183. The goal was to provide a space to about 100 nuns but this never happened. Maximum number was of 45 nuns at the same time. It was sometimes in the 14th century when the construction of the gothic cathedral started with the support of the Charles IV of Luxembourg. There are almost no written records relating to the convent and historians only assuming how convent first time burnt down. It is believed this happened sometimes during Hussit wars in the first half of the 15th century. However, the order repaired damages caused on the buildings and continued in their way of life. In the course of the 16th century the economic situation of the convent was stabilized. Another crisis came under the administration of the provost Martin Göschl who in the name of love converted into Lutheran confession in order to get married of one of nuns he fell in love with. “Romantic story, finally!”– I exclaimed. But in this stage the Hollywood love story terminates. Martin was excommunicated and put into a jail where he died while his wife/nun was allegedly immured to the wall of the convent. Tragic love like of Shakespeare` s plays. During the administration of his successor Jan, the convent ceased to exist. The property of the order came into possession of the king Fedrinand I Habsburg who ceded it to his Bohemian chancellor Jiří Žabek from Limberk who made this place his family sepulchre. The convent changed the owner several times and there were efforts to renew it mainly by Strahov Monastery in Prague but after another fire they gave it up and the former convent together with the adjacent cathedral radically dilapidated.

Rosa Coeli immured nun
Rosa Coeli cloister

In 1926 a committee for restoring of monuments in Dolní Kounice was founded. Restoration works were carried out by volunteers and it is thanks to them that we can today admire this medieval sleeping beauty.
Today there are ruins of the former church of Virgin Mary with  ambit together with the cloister which have survived. Living area of nuns have not persisted. When walking in the church nave and in the cloister, you should be aware that beneath your foot are buried remains of nuns and supporters of the convent. Only two gravestones survived. One gravestone is made of a sand stone which dates back to the era of Devonian (416-359 million years ago)- this fact my husband really appreciated, so I need to mention it.
The name Rosa Coeli can be translated as the Rose of the Heaven which sounds very romantic but the life of nuns was not romantic at all. They lived in very unfavourable living conditions of the constant cold and humidity, praying 8 hours daily and died in very young ages. They could not contact no one from the outside world and it was not unusual that some nuns were forced to enter the order because their parents did not have enough money to get married them.

Rosa Coeli cloister
Rosa Coeli cloister

The place has a mystic atmosphere and definitely worth visiting. When being there listen to the soundtrack from the Kingdom of Heaven movie. That song perfectly fits to the atmosphere there.
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