The former village and a church with a windowpane depicting the Virgin Mary and St. Elizabeth are located by the Žlutice water reservoir on the Střela River.
History and the Present
The settlement of Skoky (literally meaning "Leaps") towering above the Žlutice Dam was founded in the 18th century around the newly built Church of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary. In the early 20th century, the village had 26 houses and 144 inhabitants, a one-room school, a parish, and a mill (source: Otto's Encyclopaedia). At present, several tumbledown farm buildings are still standing in the village, as well as a deserted scrubby cemetery.
The Baroque single-aisle Church of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary was built in the village between 1736 and 1738 on the site of an older chapel. The majestic sanctuary with an oblong presbytery, a two-tower forefront with an iron gate decorated with stars and a diagonal grating were almost destroyed by vandals and hardly anything is left of the original church interior after their frequent raids.
From the book entitled "Artistic Monuments of Bohemia" (Umělecké památky Čech) published in 1980, we may learn more about the unique furnishings of the church: The main altar dating back to the 1760’s was covered by a canopy on four twisted columns. Coulisse-aligned wooden walls with statues of angels and the dove of the Holy Spirit were behind the altar. A painting of the Madonna revered by pilgrims was on the third church wall (a copy of the painting of the Virgin Mary in Passau). It was painted by J. W. Richter, a painter from Toužim, in 1717. The statues of St. Zachary and St. Elisabeth decorated both sides of the altar orifices. The side altars were made in 1760. The church interiors were decorated with paintings of St. Joseph, St. John of Nepomuk, St. Wenceslaus and a copy painting of the Virgin Mary from the mid 18th century, as well as with statues of St. Wenceslaus, Madonna, St. Anne, and John of Nepomuk. The church had a pulpit dating to the 1760’s with an ornamental relief depicting the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, richly carved pews, and a confession booth.
During pilgrimages, some statues and paintings are brought from the Teplá Monastery and shortly displayed at the church. The pilgrimage site became well known in 1717 when a local squire built a small chapel revering the painting of the Virgin Mary the Helper. Numerous miracles and cured illnesses made the site so famous that pilgrimage masses are held to this day. The tradition of pilgrimages was not even interrupted by the world wars or the Communist Regime when the access road disappeared in the Žlutice water reservoir.
Unfortunately, the National Monument Institute did not include the church in the list of endangered and unused immovable monuments in the Czech Republic and a charitable money collection is currently underway aimed at raising funds to save the church.
The church became the target of thieves several times over the past decade, fortunately, without suffering major damages. During the last break-in in 2006, thieves caused damage amounting to almost CZK 5 million by stealing copper. A public fund-raiser was launched to save the pilgrimage site in Skoky.