The Holy Trinity Column
The Holy Trinity Column is a richly sculpted stone column that soars above the nearby four-storey buildings and dominates the upper end of Olomouc’s striking main square.
Being one of the last major European columns to be built as the baroque period drew to a close, the trinity column in Olomouc is widely considered to be the most impressive column in the country, if not the whole of central Europe.
Without peer in the Empire
Certainly that was the intention of master sculptor and stonemason Vaclav Render, who announced in 1715 the construction of a monument which, with “its height and ornamentation would not have a peer in terms of excellence throughout the (Austro-Hungarian) Empire, the royal hereditary lands, and all of Germany”.
Almost three centuries later, the UNESCO general assembly saw fit to agree, and added the column to their list of protected world heritage in 2000, (after completion of a three-year restoration project).
Big enough to be a chapel
The massive base of the column has a diameter of 17 metres, and is large enough to accommodate a small chapel, which is accessible to the public in the company of a registered guide. The column gracefully narrows as it approaches its eventual height of 35 metres.
The intricate sculptures of the lower column depict 30 saints and apostles, and the three virtues (of Faith, Hope and Charity), while the narrow upper column supports representations of the Holy Trinity and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
The shimmering gold leaf sculpture bursting from the very top of the column represents the Holy Trinity itself. The father is represented by a God with a long flowing beard resting on a globe and waving benevolently. Leaning on the other side of the globe is Jesus the son, apparently bearing with ease the weight of the huge cross in the crook of his arm and the Holy Spirit is represented by a dove flying above their heads.
The statue of the Virgin Mary being carried heavenwards by angels is also entirely gilded, while the virtues, apostles and saints on the lower column all have a natural stone finish. The most graceful of the 18 statues are above the entrance to the chapel; Saints Cyril and Methodius, the patron saints of Moravia.
Free, Public, 24 hours a day
The Holy Trinity Column is one of Olomouc’s most recognizable landmarks, and with its sheer size and main square location, is impossible to miss. Not everybody though, really takes the time to look over it properly, which is a pity.
A thorough look at the column is free-of-charge, can be undertaken 24-hours-a-day and is an insightful glimpse into the values of 18th Century Europe. The tourist information office produces a detailed (free) brochure describing the history and details of the column and several of the city guide books have the same information and are available at newsstands throughout the historic centre.