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7. The Loreto

Constructed in 1626, the Loreto has played an important role in pilgrimage. Commissioned by Katerina von Lobkowicz, a Czech aristocrat, the church was created to promote the legend of Santa Casa of Loreto.  In the heart of the cloisters is a copy of the house believed to be the original house where the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary to foretell of the birth of Jesus in the small Italian town of Loreto.  The Santa Casa replica was enclosed by cloisters in 1661.  The elaborate design and the miraculous stories about the Loreto were a part of Ferdinand II's campaign to re-Catholicize the Czechs.  The large Baroque bell tower hosts a set of 30 bells cast in 1691 in Amsterdam.  The 17th century cloisters, covered with frescoes, were originally built as a shelter for many pilgrims who visited the site.