Olšanské náměstí: Church of St Roch
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Prague was struck by devastating plagues, first in 1680 and again in 1787. The area of Olšany, then outside the city walls, was chosen to accommodate the dead. The burial ground, still in use today, remains one of the largest in Europe.
At the northwest corner of the cemetery stands a baroque chapel dedicated to St Roch, patron saint of the victims of pestilence. The elliptical domed structure – probably designed by the leading Prague architect Jean-Baptiste Mathey – was completed by Jan Hainric between 1680 and 1682.
Originally occupying a more prominent position, the church’s present detached location is the result of the creation of the modern Olšanská Square, which required the destruction of the cemetery wall and an adjoining rectory.
The inscription reads ‘Senatus Populusque Antiquae Urbis Pragensis Ex Voto Erexit Anno MDCLXXX’
‘The Senate and People of the Old Town of Prague raised [this building] as a devotion in the year 1680.’