The Church of St. James in Jihlava – reconstruction of the roof

The Royal Canonry of Premonstratensians at Strahov, as the owner of the national monument, the Church of St. James the Greater in Jihlava, was granted a subsidy in March 2017 under the Integrated Regional Operational Programme for the period 2014 - 2020 for the project "Complete reconstruction of the roof truss and cladding of the main nave and presbytery of the Church of St. James the Greater in Jihlava". The aim of this project is to preserve the authenticity and integrity of the cultural heritage, i.e., to improve the condition of national cultural monuments, thereby supporting the fulfillment of the UNESCO Convention in the area of tangible and intangible cultural heritage as well as strategies.

View of St. James the Greater Church during repairs.

Main information about the project

Total eligible expenses amount to 30,920,629.76 CZK, of which:

  • 85% is from the ERDF structural fund,
  • 10% is from the state budget,
  • 5% is from private sources of the recipient.

The actual reconstruction work began in May 2017 and is scheduled to conclude at the end of April 2019. The contractor, Báča, Polička spol. s r.o., was selected through an open tender process in accordance with Act No. 137/2006 Coll., on Public Procurement. The contract price including VAT is 26,796,152 CZK. The scope of the repair includes the reconstruction of the roof truss of the main nave and presbytery, originally from 1539, using full-wood joints according to the design by the engineering office of Ing. Vít Mlázovský. The repair also includes laying new fired glazed tiles, new copper plumbing elements, lightning protection, and accompanying construction works. Upon completion, the roof space and a larger part of the church will be opened to the public, fulfilling another goal of increasing the city of Jihlava’s visitation rate with a positive impact on the economic and social areas.

On August 31, 2019, the repair of the roof structure and shell of the main nave and presbytery of St. James the Greater Church in Jihlava was successfully completed. The repair was extended by four months due to objective reasons. Approximately 110 m3 of edged timber and about 80,000 glazed tiles were used. All work was carried out to a high standard. The total eligible costs that met the conditions of the IROP amounted to 22,549,629 CZK excluding VAT, which corresponds to 27,285,051 CZK including VAT. This represents an increase in total eligible costs of nearly 2 percent compared to the contracted price. Accompanying, ineligible costs, which are fully paid by the Royal Canonry of Premonstratensians at Strahov, are close to 2 million CZK, mostly relating to future public access to the truss.

Press Release

Issued on May 26, 2020

Jihlava is gaining a new tourist attraction. Starting June 8th of this year, visitors will be able to tour the repaired trusses during guided tours.

This follows a three-year roof repair that ran from May 2017 to August 2019. Before this extensive renovation, which had direct and indirect costs exceeding 30 million crowns, it was necessary to secure not only a detailed project but also sufficient funds for execution. The church's owner, the Royal Canonry of Premonstratensians at Strahov, managed to secure a binding commitment for subsidy funds for the repair, including 85% from the European Union's subsidy program, 10% from the state budget, and the remaining 5% provided by the owner, who also covered additional ancillary costs related to the repair and its presentation.
Given that most of the truss structure dates back to 1539, the renovation opted to use so-called all-wood joints to preserve as much of the original structures as possible, replace unprofessional repairs from previous periods, and address the emergency condition of the truss in the inter-tower space. The result is the preservation, to the greatest possible extent, of the unique 1539 truss structure. The roof repair also included laying new glazed tiles, replacing the covering from 1904, whose defective condition did not allow it to be returned to the repaired truss structure. For this reason, new tiles had to be manufactured. The task was undertaken by Wienerberger-Tondach in Slovenia, the only company able to custom-produce beaver tiles matching the shape, size, and color glaze of the older covering.

The successful repair was determined not only by the financial resources provided by the EU but also by exemplary cooperation among all directly and indirectly involved parties. This included the contractor Báča Polička and its workers, designer Vít Mlázovský, the technical supervision by the investor, the representative of the parish at St. James' Church, as well as employees from the Center for Regional Development in Hradec Králové, the supervising representative from heritage care, and the management of the Jihlava City Hall.
The roof repair of St. James the Greater Church primarily involved the main truss of the church's nave, preserved from the Renaissance period of the mid-16th century. It is a five-tier truss with a span of 24.2 meters, a height of 20.4 meters at a 59-degree angle, and a ridge length of 40 meters. The repair also included the truss above the Maltsters' Chapel, improperly repaired in the last century. This truss has rafters 9 meters long at a 39-degree angle, connecting to the rafters of the main truss. The three-tier truss above the presbytery, which connects to the main truss and has a similar structure, was also repaired. Its span is 9 meters, height 8.4 meters, and angle again 59 degrees. The presbytery truss connects to the lean-to roof truss of the sacristy at a 42-degree angle, which required complex design solutions for its repair.

From the perspective of carpentry complexity, one of the most challenging repairs was to the main nave truss in the space of the inter-tower lean-to roof, which was in an emergency state. The methods of previous repairs were inappropriate both in terms of execution and insufficient securing of the truss structure's stability. To eliminate the emergency state, it was necessary to adjust the truss structure with newly dimensioned carpentry elements, complexly installed while preserving as much of the original wooden structures as possible.

During the repair, about 120 cubic meters of edged, planed, mostly spruce timber were used. For covering the repaired trusses, 82,000 atypical glazed tiles in two shades of green and four shades of brown were laid using 160,000 copper convex nails over an area of 1509 square meters. All plumbing elements are made of copper, and apart from the majority of the rain gutters, are new. Anti-snow catches were adjusted using stainless steel rods, a new lightning protection system was installed, and 3 crosses from the roof ridges were restored.
The church owner has committed that after the repair, the truss structure will be opened to the public. For this purpose, walkways and new lighting were installed in the truss, so that visitors climbing the viewing tower can familiarize themselves with a structure deserving of utmost admiration. After necessary technical adjustments, the north tower of St. James' Church will also be reopened later.


Historical painting of St. James' Church
St. James' Church from the north
St. James' Church from a bird's-eye view
Recognition for the Reconstruction
Golden Crane Award
View into the roof
View into the roof
View into the roof
From the course of work
From the course of work
From the course of work
Roof ridge