Spiritual tram features among attractions during Night of Open Churches

Photo: Adriana Krobová

Churches and other religious sites across the Czech Republic will open their doors to the public this weekend for the annual Night of Open Churches festival. The event, which attracts thousands of visitors each year, offers a rare opportunity to get a glimpse of places which are usually closed to the general public. This year, you can board a special ‘spiritual tram’ or try your hand at ringing a church bell as part of the festival offer.

Photo: Adriana Krobová
I spoke to one of the festival’s organizers, Sandra Silná of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, about this year’s edition of the Night of Open Churches and asked her first of all about the general aims of the festival:

“Well the main idea is to open the churches to a large spectrum of people who normally don’t attend the worship and they would like to know how the church works and also how places which are normally closed to the public look like so this is the basic idea: to invite people to the church.”

What are the highlights of this year’s Night of Open Churches? Are there any novelties that you are introducing in this year’s edition of the festival?

“Well, my personal highlight and also a novelty this year is the ecumenical tram in Prague. We have a tram that will go from 6 until 9 p.m. on the 22 tram line. It will be an ecumenical tram with a number of interesting guests.

“People who get on the tram can of course be part of the ride and they can debate with Archbishop Dominik Duka, Daniel Pfeifer, the chairman of the Ecumenical Council of Churches and other interesting guests. So this is my recommendation.

“I have to say that this year in Prague and the surroundings of Prague we have the highest number of churches which take part in the event. This year it is 312, which is the highest figure in the history of this event.”

And now you are talking only about Prague...

"I am talking about Prague and its close surroundings, but the Ecumenical Night of Churches actually started in Brno, in Moravia, and people can attend churches in the whole of the Czech Republic.

"I have to admit that I don’t know the exact number of all churches taking place in the event but in every bigger town and even in some villages you can come across posters which are inviting people for the Night of Churches.

"So I guess all around the people can find a church in their close vicinity that will be open and will host some programme and will invite people to come inside.”

Photo: Adriana Krobová
As you have already said, the festival has proven to be very successful over the eight years of its existence so how many people do you expect to come this year?

“I think it will be at least 100,000 people. Last year we had over 100,000 visitors, so I think it will probably be even more this year.”

The eighth edition of the annual Night of Open Churches gets underway in Prague and other Czech cities and villages on Friday. You can find more information about the programme at www.nockostelu.cz.