In order to find the monastery in Tepla, in the western Bohemian region of the Czech Republic, a traveller should stamp the image of the church well into his memory beforehand. For there are few signs showing the way. The church’s two steeples do that.
And yet Premonstratsky Klaster Tepla, as the monastery is called in the Czech language, is a genuine monument covering over 800 years of European history. For many people, it is a day’s excursion while taking a vacation at the well-known spas of Karlsbad, 44 kilometres away, and Marienbad, just 14 kilometres distant.
The half-hour walk from the village of Tepla to the monastery is comparable to a pilgrimage. There is scarcely a sound to be heard, as an old cycle path winds its way through fields to the monastery church, which towers above everything else.
But inside the 800-year-old monastery courtyard there is nothing left of the erstwhile splendour. From 1950 to 1978, the imposing building was occupied by the Czechoslovak army.
Afterwards it stood empty and steadily fell to ruin. Today, the renovation work is proceeding slowly forward, and now a few Premonstratensian monks are living here again.
It’s better not to spend too much time in the courtyard, the female tour guide firmly suggests. Better to go inside, where a few parts of the building have already been renovated.