Church of St James

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in Staré Město

The great Gothic mass of the Church of St James began in the 14th century as a Minorite monastery church, and was given a beautiful baroque facelift in the early 18th century. But in the midst of the gilt and stucco is a grisly memento: on the inside of the western wall (look up to the right as you enter) hangs a shrivelled human arm.

Legend claims that when a thief tried to steal the jewels from the statue of the Virgin around the year 1400, the Virgin grabbed his wrist in such an iron grip that his arm had to be lopped off. (The truth may not be far behind: the church was a favourite of the guild of butchers, who may have administered their own justice.)

Pride of place inside goes to the over-the-top tomb of Count Jan Vratislav of Mitrovice, an 18th-century lord chancellor of Bohemia, found in the northern aisle. It’s well worth a visit to enjoy St James’ splendid pipe organ and famous acoustics. Recitals – free at 10.30am or 11am after Sunday Mass – and occasional concerts are not always advertised by ticket agencies, so check the website under 'Koncerty/Sbor'.