The striking, brick-red, early baroque facade that dominates St George Square conceals the Czech Republic’s best-preserved Romanesque church, established in the 10th century by Vratislav I (the father of St Wenceslas). The tiny baroque chapel beside the entrance is dedicated to St John of Nepomuk. What you see today is mostly the result of restorations made between 1887 and 1908.
The austerity of the Romanesque nave is relieved by a baroque double staircase leading to the apse, where fragments of 12th-century frescoes survive. In front of the stairs lie the tombs of Prince Boleslav II (d 997; on the left) and Prince Vratislav I (d 921), the church’s founder. The arch beneath the stairs allows a glimpse of the 12th-century crypt; Přemysl kings are buried here and in the nave.
On the right side of the crypt is a gruesome statue of a decomposing corpse, complete with a snake coiled in its abdominal cavity. Dating from the 16th century, it is an allegory of Vanity, although it is known as Brigita after a Prague legend. An Italian sculptor murdered his girlfriend, a local girl named Brigita, but when her buried body was discovered he was driven by remorse to create this sculpture of her decaying corpse.