Jan Blaise Santini-Aichel was a brilliant architect and builder, famous for his unique style called Baroque Gothic, whose mystical buildings, such as the pilgrimage church of Jan Nepomucký on Zelená Hora, still take visitors by surprise.
He was born in 1677 as the eldest son of the privileged family of Prague stonemasons, and, since his birth, he suffered from physical disabilities. He was partially lame, limped when walking, and possibly he had a hump. According to the family tradition, he was expected to become a master stonemason. However, stonemasonry was a physically very demanding profession, therefore his father decided that it would be better for him to become a painter and learn the basics of construction. He was right!
After studying in Prague, Santini Aichel set out on a journey around Europe, and in 1700 he began designing his first buildings. As a young architect, he was able to understand what religious leaders wanted for their monasteries. Santini Aichel was also very educated, e.g. in descriptive geometry, and he excelled in the extraordinary imagination that was necessary to create his extremely complicated buildings. The intricate floor plans also suggest that he must have been educated in what we would now call esotericism. In his designs, he used the esoteric method of Kabbalah, which could be summarized as the transmission of Old Testament truths using numerical and geometric symbols. Even today, experts and researchers are debating what ciphers or messages Santini Aichel hid in his building gems. That is why we can speak about "Santini's language", in which he constantly speaks to us from his buildings.
During his not very long career, Jan Blaise Santini Aichel completed more than 100 projects, bringing the average of four completed buildings each year. About sixty of them are considered to be buildings of above-average quality, and about ten represent the top monuments of European architecture of his time. He worked incredibly hard, not only on church buildings, but also designed two Inns near Žďár nad Sázavou. He had to supervise the works and was present at every construction site, because as an architect he was fully responsible for carrying out his plans.
Santini Aichel is definitely one of the historical personalities who were able to see beyond the horizon of their time, and we can say without exaggeration that thanks to his originality, he imprinted a unique character not only on many magnificent and important buildings, but also on small chapels and churches, and thus on the whole Czech landscape.
In 1996, an asteroid discovered by Czech astronomers, Jana and Miloš Tichý, was named Santini-Aichel.
If you are interested in the story, we would highly recommend the amazing book Santini's Language by the well-known Czech writer Miloš Urban.