Minorite Monastery and St. John the Baptist Hospital Building

The beginnings of the monastery are not clear. In existing literature, its foundation is connected to Oldřich III (1316-1348), who built a monastery together with the Church of St. John the Baptist, where he took the Minorites. The building of the monastery has three wings and two floors. The paradise yard is surrounded by a cloister with arcades on pillars arched by a cross ribbed vault, usually on figural consoles. Gothic consoles decorated with tracery are located only in the eastern wing. The cloister is a picture gallery of Gothic paintings, found in several layers. The oldest part is the eastern wing commenced in 1369 (oriented from the cloister entrance in the western wing clockwise), which is the work of the stonemasons Mikuláš and Ondřej who followed the example of the Augustinian Monastery in Třeboň. The former capitular hall (later the so-called Weaver’s Chapel), which was built in the high-Gothic style around 1375, adjoins the eastern wing. The original stellar vault arched to a central pillar and a console was replaced after the fire in 1801 with a brick vault and the presbytery was partly demolished. In 1987, a fresco of the Blessed Virgin Mary was uncovered here. In 1814 the chapel was sold by the weaver’s guild to the hospital administrator Claudius, who rebuilt it as a greenhouse. In 1584 the monastery was reconstructed as a hospital, and a separate building was built for this purpose in the Renaissance style in front of the western facade of the cloister. The hospital was established by Jáchym of Hradec (1526 – 1565) and his wife, Anna of Rožmberk. Both hospitals existing at that time – town and suburb hospitals - were moved here. The town hospital, named after St. George or Ms Mandy, established in the 2nd half of the 13th century by the German Knights Order, was the oldest hospital in Hradec. The second hospital to be brought here was located in the Dubnické quarters, was named Za rybníkem (situated on the site of the church of St. Elisabeth), and was founded by Heřman and Jan jr. of Hradec in 1399. When this hospital’s capacity proved insufficient, Jáchym of Hradec started negotiating with the prior of the Minorite monastery about providing the building for a new hospital. The negotiations were protracted, the monks probably wanted a year’s pension, but in the end they were satisfied with some compensation and moved to Jihlava. Jáchym’s philanthropic act is documented by the inscription on a terracotta plate with Jáchym’s and his wife’s crest, which used to be situated in the hospital foyer (now deposited at the palace). “What I give to God I have beforehand; God knows who will get what I leave behind.” On 25 March 1564, the poor were brought to the new hospital. The profits of both hospitals were transferred here and Jáchym himself was the new hospital’s generous sponsor. The number of patients increased to 20 women and 20 men. Hospital administration was trusted to the fathers of the poor and the institute fell under the surveillance and protection of the Hradec domain. In 1564, the town donated the moat and bulwark located behind the hospital building to the hospital. The successor families of the Hradec manor, the Slavata and Černín, were also the hospital’s generous sponsors. In 1943 the institute for the poor was transferred to the town and in 1952 it was taken over by the charity organisation Charita. It was used as a tourist hostel, storeroom and special school; in 1987 it was adapted as the district (now municipal) library, which moved to the newly reconstructed building of the former military quarters. At present the whole building is being substantially reconstructed; after completion of the ground floor, two Renaissance halls have been restored (one is a conference hall with facilities and the other is an exhibition hall).