Porta Coeli Monastery

Tišnov-Predklášterí, Czech Republic

Background

Porta Coeli is a Cistercian monastery in Tišnov-Předklášteří, a small village near Brno in the Czech Republic. The monastery was founded in 1233 by Queen Constance, the second Queen consort of Ottokar I of the Czech Přemyslid dynasty. The centerpiece of the monastic complex is the Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary, fronted on the west by an imposing early Gothic portal, an important monument in the history of Gothic sculpture in the region. With recumbent lions on each side and adorned with foliate and baccate motifs, the portal is lined with large figures of the apostles along the jambs. The tympanum is decorated with the figures of Christ flanked by the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, symbols of the Evangelists, and the kneeling figures of Constance and Ottokar I presenting a model of the church. After many years without proper maintenance, the portal was deteriorating at an alarming rate, prompting WMF to step in to assist with its restoration.

How We Helped

In 2001 and 2002, WMF provided technical assistance and financial support for the restoration of the damaged portal. Prior work had included historical research and a series of technical investigations, carried out by an accomplished team of Czech and Slovak experts. The stone was partially cleaned, highly deteriorated material was consolidated, damaged elements were patched, and deep cracks were grouted. To guard against future deterioration, measures to improve water drainage at the site were also implemented. Plaster casts of two statues of apostles were created, to aid in the broader study of the monument. In November 2002 WMF convened an international symposium, Porta Coeli Restaurata 2000-2002. During the two-day event the restoration process and new findings on the history of Porta Coeli were presented. Experts exchanged technical information based on the experience of restoring similar portals in other monuments such as Ebrach Abbey in Germany, St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, and St. George’s Abbey in Ják, Hungary.

Why It Matters

The Porta Coeli Monastery is an important monument, illustrating the introduction of the Gothic style in Bohemia through the expansion of the Cistercian order in the region. The project to restore the portal led to important research and international technical exchange benefitting architectural conservation in the region. In 2010, Porta Coeli was declared a National Cultural Landmark of the Czech Republic.

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