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Czech Republic: Searching for healing in the small village of Panensky Tynec

· Czech Republic,Joey,Travel journal

After the couple of days spent exploring the city of Prague, I decided to finally check out the unfinished gothic church of Panensky Tynec. I was told about this by my old colleague Petra, who said that it was "a truly magical place with enormous healing energy all around". Given that healing was a big part of my reason for quitting my job to travel, this was on top of my to-do list for the Czech Republic.

The legend is that the church lies atop a cross-shaped field of positive energy, and that people with depression or other mental health issues visit this place in search of healing. It's also an area visited by practitioners of yoga, and I read that there are events held there from time to time.

Another factor that drew me to this place was the remoteness and its relative obscurity. There is hardly any information on the internet (history, or even how to get there!) and none of the usual travel blogs mentioned it. There's just a barebones Wikipedia page about the town, but it doesn't mention the healing aspect of the ruins. I wanted to check out the legend myself.

How to get there

After some struggle (nobody at the hostel knew about the place!), I managed to find a bus that would take me from Prague. At the time of writing there are only two direct buses each day that go from Prague to Panensky Tynec. They depart from Zlicin (the last stop of Metro line B) at around 10am and 10:15am. Idos.cz is the best place to find connections to different place within the Czech Republic. Google maps proved pretty useless outside of Prague, but thankfully a local guy I met at a Couchsurfing karaoke event showed me this amazing site!

The direct bus (coach) from Zlicin cost 52 CZK and took just over half an hour - Panensky Tynec was the first stop. The next direct bus back to Prague was at 13:25pm (1 hr, <50 CZK), which gave me just over two and a half hours to enjoy the village.

The unfinished gothic church of Panensky Tynec

Welcome to Panensky Tynec. The village's completed church (the unfinished one is around the back).

My first impression of the village was that it was quiet. The Wikipedia page says (actually, this was the only information it provided) that the village has around 370 inhabitants. The church ruins was the same. There was hardly any footfall. In my time there, I probably saw no more than 30 people.

There was a distinct sense of peace and positive feeling, as I circled the ruins and stood in the middle of the nave of the incomplete 14th century church. The gentle cooing of the pigeons that inhabited the many holes and the beautiful birdsong really added to the calming atmosphere.

I don't know what I think about "positive energy", but people of various faith tradition have often referred to places on Earth where the fabric between this world and the "other" (or "spiritual") world is especially thin. This place certainly had that sort of feel to it.

I grabbed a simple lunch from the only shop on the main street and sat down to enjoy the quiet and take in the environment. I even got round to reading a few verses from my Bible app, which I think was the first time perhaps since I began my travels - spiritual place indeed!

There seemed to be a mutual understanding between the visitors here. People were either silent or spoke in subdued tones (perhaps as though in an actual, fully-built church). Some people touched the walls, while others simply stood in the middle of the nave. I wondered what hurts they came hoping to heal.

So what did I think of the place? It's hard putting it into words, but I guess the best way to describe it was that I felt like I was standing in a pool of "positive energy". I was especially drawn to a rectangular impression on the wall on the right hand side of the nave. As I had seen others do, I placed my hands on it. For some reason, I started to speak out words to my brother. Now, I don't believe in an "other world" or "afterlife" as some simple religious folk would portray it, but the moment felt special.

I at the bottom of the rectangular cut out, I noticed a flower that had been placed there by a previous visitor. I wondered who it was for.

Spiritual seekers

As I mentioned, there weren't that many visitors to the ruins. Of those that did come though, a few stood out.

One was what seemed like a father and daughter. The father was probably in his fifties and the daughter in her late teens or early twenties. They walked around the ruins for an hour or so, sometimes walking together and sometimes walking separately. They looked like ordinary people that you'd pass by on the street without noticing. The girl was slightly gothic / emo in style, but that's quite characteristic of that age group. Yet they sought out this place, in a small town that's hard to get to, to circle the ruins that supposedly brings healing. I hoped they got what they were looking for.

Then there was a couple meditating, hidden away between the walls on the outside of the ruin. They looked like the kind of people who would seek this place out. They looked at peace.

Finally, towards the end of my short time there, a group of middle-aged and older women arrived. They stood in a circle at the middle of the nave, doing some kind of ritual. Some of them were doing what looked like pendulum readings, holding out a string in front of them with an object attached to the bottom. I guessed they were trying to get bearings on where to stand, as after a few minutes they put the pendulums away, as though satisfied that the spot was correct. They then began to carry out some sort of ritual or meditation, holding their palms out in front of them like people do in church. Some started waving their arms up and down too.

Concluding thoughts

The trip really tired me out and I slept like a baby on my one hour bus ride back to Prague (thankfully to a closer station - Hradcanska). I'm not sure if it was the healing (I've always found healing experiences draining) or just the early start.

Far from the common touristic attractions of Prague, this short but powerful trip was probably one of my favourite moments while in Czech Republic. Yes, sightseeing is great ("seeing the world") and the architecture, history, art, culture all very impressive, beautiful and absolutely important. I'm sure out travels will include all of these, for sure. But for me, these quiet stolen moments off the beaten path that provide deeper moments of something "other"... they stand out as the cornerstone of my travel philosophy.

A really old engraving on the church wall - 1880!

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