Discover the secrets of the stunning Týn Church Prague, the gorgeous Gothic masterpiece overlooking the city’s Old Town Square.
The Týn Church Prague looks like something out of a book of fairytales, its clusters of spires peering over narrow medieval lanes that could be straight from the pages of a Brothers Grimm story.
It’s the most enchanting church in Prague, a step 500 years back in time through a medieval passageway to a hushed, peaceful haven. It’s also one of the most famous things to see in Prague, its spires soaring above the magnificent Old Town Square.
Our guide to the Týn Church shows you everything you need to know about visiting the church, including finding its hidden entrance, and what to see inside.
We also tell you the history of the Týn Church Prague and point out some unusual facts about it that you may not know. We then show you several great vantage points from which you can view the Týn Church.
Finally, we point you in the direction of some of the best cafes and restaurants near the Týn Church, and a few places to see nearby. We hope you enjoy it.
Why Visit The Týn Church Prague
The Týn Church – also known as the Church of Our Lady Before Týn – is one of the three most famous sights in Prague, along with the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle.
It is one of the most beautiful Gothic churches in Europe – its spires with their multiple pinnacles give it a fairytale feel, possibly the most wonderful sprinkling of architectural magic of all in a city blessed with so many amazing buildings.
Visiting the Týn Church is like stepping back centuries in time, partly because of its unique entrance via a medieval arcade off the Old Town Square in Prague.
The serene, simple Gothic interior of the Týn Church is beautiful, and adorned by some lavish Baroque chapel altars and monuments.
The north door of the church is also one of the finest examples of 14th century religious sculpture in Central Europe.
Týn Church Prague History
The Týn Church Prague dates from the 14th century onwards, but its origins are earlier.
There was a merchants’ courtyard called Týnský dvůr (possibly after a Czech word for fence) or Ungelt (customs post) in the early 12th century. It was frequented by many foreign traders from across Europe. A hospital and church were established by 1135.
The original church – which would have been Romanesque – was replaced by a Gothic structure, most likely around the mid-14th century. The Týn School was also founded around the same time, according to the church website. A Roman Catholic school is still on the site, occupying the gabled Renaissance building (pictured above) directly in front of the Church.
The Týn Church’s full name in Czech is Kostel Matky Boží před Týnem, and it’s also often called Týnsky chram.
The Týn Church was under the auspices of the Hussites for over 200 years, from 1415 to 1419 and again from 1419 to 1621, when it was brought back under Catholic control.
The Týn Church Prague wasn’t completed until 1511, when the south tower was finished.
Lightning struck the church in 1679, causing the nave roof truss to collapse and leading to the church’s Baroque restoration.
Church of Our Lady Before Týn Facts
The two spires of the Týn Church are 80 metres (262 feet) high, but they are not exactly the same height.
Look closely and you’ll see that the two towers, although appearing similar, have visible differences. As you view the Church from the Old Town Square, you’ll see that the south tower (on the right) is noticeably wider than the north tower. The north tower was completed by 1427, but the south tower wasn’t finished until 1511.
The architect of St Vitus Cathedral (in Prague Castle) and the Charles Bridge, Peter Parler, may have also had a hand in building the Týn Church. If he didn’t, either his son or members of his workshop did, working on the choir of the church from 1380 onwards.
The most famous person to have been buried in the Týn Church was the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, who had been living in exile in Bohemia for some years before his death in 1601. According to his companion Johannes Kepler, the cause of the illness which caused his death was his refusal to leave a banquet for a toilet break, as he didn’t want to go against etiquette. He fell ill with either bladder or kidney problems and died eleven days later.
If you travel through the nearby Holešovice Prague district you could be forgiven for doing a double take as you pass the area’s main square, Strossmayerovo náměstí. The façade of the parish church of St Anthony of Padua, completed in 1914, bears a very strong resemblance to that of the Týn Church, especially its spires and west window. The neo-Gothic interior is quite different.
What To See In Týn Church Prague
The most attractive features of the Týn Church are its spires, and in the following section we suggest seven places, including the Old Town Square, from where you can see them in all their glory. Prague is often called the City of a Hundred Spires, and those of the Týn Church are the most iconic, recognisable and beautiful of them all.
Each of the spires is adorned with eight smaller spires, giving it its unique appearance like something out of a medieval fantasy tale.
Before entering the church, take a walk down Týnska, the street to the immediate north of the church (the left side as you look at the church from the Old Town Square). Near the east end of the church you’ll reach the ornate north portal, with its superlative carvings depicting the Passion of Christ.
These are from the workshop of master Bohemian Gothic architect and stonemason Peter Parler, who was also responsible for other landmarks of Prague including the Charles Bridge and St Vitus Cathedral.
The fabric of the building interior – accessed via an arcade in Old Town Square, described in detail below – is largely Gothic, with its soaring pointed arches and tall windows. The vaulting is from the Baroque restoration.
Most of the Týn Church furnishings are from the Baroque period, when a restoration was carried out after a fire caused by a lightning strike in 1679. The ornate high altar by Karel Skreta is the most elaborate and striking of these.
The Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe is buried in a simple tomb behind a pillar on the south side of the chancel of the church.
The Best Views Of The Týn Church Prague
The Týn Church looks magnificent from anywhere on Old Town Square. If you’re very keen on photographing Prague, you’ll see angles everywhere, including from close to the Prague Astronomical Clock and back near St Nicholas Church across the Square.
Prague Old Town Hall Tower is a brilliant vantage point, with the famous view over the square and Týn Church. You need to buy a ticket (250 CZK, or €10) to ascend the Tower, and there is an additional charge if you want to use the lift rather than the stairs to the viewing gallery. We walked! It’s well worth the effort. The only time I’ve ever seen it crowded up there is during the annual Prague Christmas Markets.
The roof terrace of Hotel U Prince offers a stunning view of the Týn Church and Old Town Hall Tower. You can visit at any time, and need to order a glass of champagne in order to be able to stay and enjoy the view. When I visited this was 300 CZK (€12) which is steep, but compared to some places I’ve visited around the world isn’t too bad.
The Powder Tower (Prasna brana), on the eastern edge of the Old Town next to Obecni Dum, is one of the best towers in Prague to visit, with a superb view of the Týn Church and, beyond, St Vitus Cathedral and Prague Castle. The view is especially beautiful at sunset in winter. Adult tickets cost 150 CZK (€6).
The Prague skyline looks magnificent from Petřin Hill, a series of gardens on the slope above the Mala Strana Prague district. You don’t need to climb far to get the best view (see above), which is from the lower level of the Hill, the Seminary Gardens. Walk up Hellichova and head up through the trees. Visit for sunrise or dusk for the best views.
Many people visit Letna Park (a few minutes’ walk across the river from Josefov, the Jewish district at the northern end of Prague Old Town) for the superb view of the main bridges in Prague. But this vantage point (close to the Art Nouveau and Baroque style Hanavsky Pavilion) also offers a great view of the Týn Church, especially towards sunset.
The T-Anker Restaurant rooftop terrace is one of the best viewpoints in Prague, with a jaw-dropping view of the Old Town skyline. It’s on the rooftop of the Kotva department store on Náměstí Republiky, accessed via a grotty-looking lift or staircase to the 5th floor. From there you get a bird’s-eye view of the Church of St James the Great (Kostel Sv Jakub), the Týn Church and Old Town Hall Tower, with Prague Castle beyond.
Where Is The Church Of Our Lady Before Týn Prague
The Týn Church is located just behind the eastern side of Old Town Square Prague (Staroměstské náměstí).
How To Get To The Týn Church Prague
TheTýn Church is located just off Old Town Square in the heart of historic Prague. It’s very easy to reach by public transport, around five minutes’ walk from the Staroměstská Metro and tram stops.
These are around 50 metres apart – the Metro stops are on Kaprova, and the tram stops on the busier Křižovnická. It’s a short walk along Kaprova from these stops to the Square and Týn Church.
The only bus to stop on the Old Town Square is the 194, which runs from Florenc (across the street from Florenc bus station) to Mala Strana across the river. Note that it only stops on Old Town Square travelling towards Florenc. You can find the 194 bus timetable here.
Despite its presence and visibility above Prague Old Town Square, the Týn Church entrance is quite difficult to find. The two images in this section of the article will help you unravel the mystery.
The first image is of the exterior of the Ristorante Caffe Italia, which is on Old Town Square directly below the Týn Church. The arch in the bottom centre of the image is where you need to go.
The second image is a closer view of the same arch, with the numbers 604 and 14 visible to the right (all Prague addresses have two numbers, so this is no cause for confusion). It’s about 15-20 metres through this arched passageway to the west door of the church, which can be reached via a flight of six steps.
Things To See Near The Týn Church Prague
The Týn Church is perhaps the best-known of the churches in Old Town Prague. And of you’re visiting the Square, I’d also suggest visiting the Church of St Nicholas, which is the local Hussite denomination church. It’s a fanciful Baroque beauty and, like the Týn Church, a wonderful venue for occasional concerts.
We have written extensive articles on Prague Old Town and nearby New Town Prague so won’t go into exhaustive detail here. However, we do recommend exploring Prague’s rich Jewish history at the various branches of the Prague Jewish Museum, which includes three synagogues and the Old Jewish Cemetery, a few minutes’ walk from Old Town Square.
We also recommend visiting another of the most beautiful churches in Prague, St Giles Church (Kostel Sv Jilji) on Husova, a 5-minute walk from Old Town Square. Like the Týn Church it’s Gothic on the outside and largely Baroque within, and if you’ve seen Milos Forman’s 1980s biopic Amadeus, you may recognise it as the setting for several scenes in the movie.
Places To Eat Near The Týn Church Prague
Many places around Prague Old Town Square serve small portions of mediocre food at high prices.
We’ve been lucky to find several good restaurants near Prague Old Town Square, and also a few great cafes to check out.
We’re big fans of Pivnice Štupartská, an old beerhouse serving hearty portions of traditional Czech fare, including a whopping roast pork knee twice the size of what you would be served on Old Town Square. They also serve excellent Gambrinus beer.
The Municipal House Restaurant (Restaurace Obecni Dům) has the most spectacular setting of any Prague restaurant, in a lavish dining hall in one of most wondrous buildings of Art Nouveau Prague. The café (Kavarna Obecni Dům) across the building’s entrance hall is rather special too.
U Parlamentu is across the Old Town on Valentinska, close to the Staroměstská Metro and tram stops. They also offer high quality Czech food, and at busy times like Christmas you’ll often see a queue outside.
The one place on Old Town Square that we do recommend is Café Mozart, a beautiful late Baroque café on the first floor of the same building as the Grand Hotel Praha. We can recommend the coffee, hot chocolate, cakes and the superb view of the Astronomical Clock, which is barely 20 metres away.
We also recommend two cafes in the House of the Black Madonna, a rare Cubist building housing the wonderful Cubist Museum, one of our favourite museums in Prague. On the ground floor you’ll find the Černá Madona Cubism Restaurant, which made the news in 2020 for its coronavirus cakes. Upstairs you’ll find the Grand Café Orient, which originally closed in the 1920s, only to re-open 80 years later. It’s one of my favourite places for breakfast in Prague.
David Angel is a Welsh writer, photographer and historian who has been travelling and photographing Europe for over 25 years. His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, Condé Nast Traveller, the Guardian, the Times and Sunday Times.