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- Vitus Cathedral is the largest and the most important temple in Prague. Apart from religious services, coronations of Czech kings and queens also took place here. The cathedral is a place of burial of several patron saints, sovereigns, noblemen and archbishops. The cathedral is the third church consecrated to the same saint on the same site.
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St. Vitus Cathedral is the largest and the most important temple in Prague. Apart from religious services, coronations of Czech kings and queens also took place here. The cathedral is a place of burial of several patron saints, sovereigns, noblemen and archbishops.
The cathedral is the third church consecrated to the same saint on the same site. Around the year 925, Prince Wenceslas (Václav) founded a Romanesque rotunda here, which after 1060 was converted into a basilica with three naves and two steeples. The importance of the church grew especially after the establishment of the Prague bishopric in 973 and the founding of the body of canons - the St. Vitus chapter, which later became an important cultural and administrative institution.
In 1344, Charles IV began the construction of a Gothic cathedral. Its first builders, Matthias of Arras and later Peter Parler, built the chancel with a ring of chapels, St. Wenceslas Chapel, the Golden Gate and the lower part of the Great South Tower. It was already Peter Parler who started the construction of the South Tower, however he did not complete it. In the 16th century, is was finished with a Renaissance view gallery and a helmet. Later in the 18th century, the older helmet was replaced by a new dome.
Unfortunately, in 1419 the construction of the Cathedral stopped because of the Hussite Wars. In spite of the endeavours of some sovereigns to secure the continuation of the construction work, the Cathedral remained uncompleted for whole centuries. The facade of the Cathedral was provisionally closed and for example the music choir was bulit.
It was not until the latter half of the 19th century that the Union for the Completion of the Cathedral began the repair of the original part and the completion of the Cathedral in Neo-Gothic style. The church was solemnly consecrated in 1929. Its interior was subjected to adaptations even in later years. Visitors enter the Cathedral through the portal in the western facade, opposite the passage-way between the Second and Third Courtyard of Prague Castle. Its bronze door is decorated with reliefs with scenes from the history of the Cathedral and from the legends about St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert. The Neo-Gothic part of the Cathedral consists of the main nave and the narrow side aisles, lined with chapels, and the northern wing of the transverse nave. The chapels have stained glass windows. In the cross nave, the ceremonial entrance into the Cathedral can be seen - the Golden Gate - leading to the Third Courtyard. Situated in the chancel of the Cathedral, in front of the high altar, is the Royal Mausoleum below which there is the royal crypt. The chancel is surrounded by a ring of Gothic chapels. Czech sovereigns and patron saints are interred in some of them. St. Wenceslas Chapel is a cult centre of St. Vitus Cathedral. Its magnificent decoration and the different conception of its architecture emphasize its singularity as the central point of the Cathedral with the tomb of the most important Czech patron saint. The facing of the walls, consisting of precious stones, and the wall paintings of the Passion Cycle are parts of the original 14th-century decoration of the chapel. The scenes from the life of St. Wenceslas forming another decorative band are attributed to the workshop of the Master of the Litomerice Altar (the cycle dates back to 1509). The door in the south-western corner of the chapel leads to the Crown Chamber in which the Bohemian Coronation Jewels are kept.
The original Romanesque Rotunda of St. Vitus was founded in the second decade of the 10th century by St. Wenceslas in order to house a gift from Emperor Henry the Fowler, the shoulder of St. Vitus, a defender of the Holy Roman Empire and henceforth also a patron saint of Bohemia. He built it on the highest place in Prague Castle and by doing so he determined forever the layout of the secular and religious buildings in the third courtyard.
St Vitus’ Cathedral is the most spectacular and best known part of the Prague Castle complex. Construction began in 1344 and was completed an astonishing six centuries later, in 1929. This Gothic Cathedral is the ceremonial and spiritual hub of Prague: it houses the tombs of Czech royalty, relics of local saints, was used for coronations and is home to the Crown Jewels.
Víta) is Prague Castle, because it is the one building that dominates the city skyline (although in reality it is just one of many buildings contained within the Prague Castle complex). St. Vitus Cathedral was commissioned by Charles IV. It is a Gothic masterpiece and the spiritual symbol of the Czech state. Construction began in 1344 on the site of an earlier 10th century rotunda. Its first architects, Matthias of Arras and later Peter Parler, constructed the chancel with a ring of chapels ...
St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle St. Vitus Cathedral is the most important and the largest church in Prague. It is situated at the Prague Castle and it is a burial place of former Czech Kings. The Czech Crown Jewels and a large treasure are kept there.
- North Side Aisle
- The Transept
- The Chancel
- Gothic Chapels
- St. Wenceslas Chapel
- High Tower
“St. Vitus” was named by Prague’s patron Saint, St. Wenceslas, Duke of Bohemia. Saint Wenceslas had acquired a holy relic, the arm of St. Vitus, from Emperor Henry I. Since Saint Vitus had a Slavic sounding name and the Emperor thought this was the perfect relic to convert the Slavic people to Christianity. Saint Vitus is the patron saint of actors, entertainers and dancers. He is also said to help protect against lightning, dog bites and, if you can believe it, over sleeping. Standing in the third courtyard of Prague Castle, looking up at the looming gothic towers, you must remember you are in the same spot where a romanesque pagan temple stood as early as 924. The temple was dedicated to the god of fertility, and many women made the pilgrimage here to pray for a healthy baby. Eventually, the pagan temple was demolished as Christians came to build their Cathedral to their new God.
Take some time to examine the church’s exterior. Spot all the different creatures which hang over the roof. You’ll see dragons, scorpions, musicians and more. At night these sculptures are all lit up from below, creating a haunting spectacle as their faces seem to move in the light. Although the southern entrance to the Cathedral is no longer in use, walk around the building and look up at what might be the most astonishing part of the exterior – the Golden Gate. This entrance is decorated with colourful and gilded mosaics which combine to produce a stunning scene of the Last Judgement. Unlike the modern western doors, these doors date back from 1370. Since they are so old and delicate, they’re no longer in use to protect them from too much wear and tear. To enter the church, go back around to the cathedral’s western doors. As you walk through, take a moment to look at the large, bronze reliefs. Each one is adorned with scenes from the history of the Cathedral’s constructions and le...
Like many of the world’s great churches, construction took ages. It began in 1344 but was not completed until 1929. Even today, the Cathedral is steadily being restored to ensure all the work that went into building such a gem isn’t lost to time and the pollution of the faithful. The architect of St. Vitus Cathedral was Frenchman Matthias of Arras who had previously designed the famed Papal Palacein Avignon. Matthias of Arras was a schooled geometer and mathematician, who loved rigid proportions. Matthias is responsible for the heady French Gothic architectural style found so prominently throughout the Cathedral. French Gothic architecture was compact. The transept is short with small chapels. The west front is gracious, with three portals topped with a classical rose window and two large towers. The east end is polygonal with radiating chapels. But the most impactful piece of French Gothic design is their use of height to create an impactful vertical perspective. But Matthias didn’...
As you walk along the nave, you are immediately struck with a wave of colour and light we well as powerful vertical lines. Above the main entrance is the classical rose window, installed in 1927, which depicts various famous scenes from the bible.
On either side of the nave are narrow side aisles lined with small yet elaborately decorated chapels. Many of the chapels are adorned with a large stain glass window. They are dedicated to a particular saint and will often contain a relic or gilded altar portraying scenes of the life of the saint. The Archbishop’s Chapel, one of the first on the north side aisle, contains the most majestic stained glass windows. This piece was produced by Czech, Art Nouveau master painter, Alfons Mucha. Created in the early 1930s, the piece was commissioned for the Millennium Jubilee of St. Wenceslas’ death. The window portrays the young St. Wenceslas with his grandmother St. Ludmila. Surrounding the centre panel are small vignettes of the lives of Saints Cyril and Methodiuswho spread Christianity among the Slavs. The first thing you’ll notice upon looking at this piece is the saturation of the colours and sharp lines around the figures. Because this pane of glass was painted – not stained – Mucha w...
As you continue walking down the nave, you’ll come upon the “crossing”. This where the north and south transepts intersect with the nave, creating the “cross” design which is so important to Cathedrals. The south transept contains the glittering stained glass window designed by Max Švabinský. This was installed in 1938 and depicts scenes from the Last Judgement, with the fires of hell burning brightly in the lower right panel. The vivid colour in the contemporary stained glass is breathtaking. In the north transept, you’ll find the baroque pipe organ. The current organ has over 4400 pipes and was built by Josef Molzer in 1932. The 16th-century Renaissance organ loft houses this musical instrument in what is now one of the oldest parts of the church. Despite all those pipes, the organ is simply not loud enough to fill the whole 125-meter long church. In 2017, bids to build the new organ were being reviewed. They want to build a new loft to house a modern pipe organ with over 8000 pip...
Behind the crossing and in front of the high altar, is the chancel which contains the Royal Mausoleum. The tombs behind the intricate wrought iron gates are that of Ferdinand I and his wife. Each one of their tombs is topped with a hauntingly realistic marble effigy. A set of stairs behind the gates leads down to the royal crypt where dozens of Bohemian royals are interred. Behind the Royal Mausoleum is the Choir and high altar. The high altar follows the strict neo-gothic philosophy; tall proportions and fine details. The entire altar resembles the shape of a cathedral itself. The altar of St. Vitus was the crowning place of all the Kings and Queens of Bohemia, and one can only imagine how beautiful the Royals would have looked in their finery, made only finer by the sparkling interior of the Cathedral.
Surrounding the chancel is a ring of Gothic Chapels. Starting on the left (the north end), make your way around, finishing off at the famous, St. Wenceslas Chapel. The first chapel you’ll visit is of St Sigismund, one of the patron saints of the city of Prague. Designed by František Kanka in 1720, it contains a remarkable red marble altar with stone carved into depictions of the saint. St Sigismund was once King of the Burgundians before he was captured by the King of Orléans and executed. In 1366, Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, moved Sigismund’s relics to Prague and he has since become one of the many patron saints of the Kingdom of Bohemia. St. Anne’s Chapel is next. Standing in the centre is a sumptuous gothic altar. Inside are three white marble saints, the central figure being St. Anne herself. St Anne was the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus according to apocryphal Christian and Islamic tradition. Behind the altar is an elaborately designed stained glass window portray...
But the most important Chapel of them all is St. Wenceslas Chapel. St. Wenceslas was the Duke of Bohemia from 921 until his assassination in 935. His younger, power hungry, brother was found guilty of his murder. Although he was never an actualKing, many people know his from the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas”. The heroic goodness of the duke was well known throughout Bohemia, and years after his death people continued to spread stories of his kindness. He was eventually posthumously declared a King and given a sainthood. From floor to ceiling, this chapel is embellished with the most exquisite paintings, gilding and ornaments. The lower portions of the walls in here are decorated with over 1300 semi-precious stones and paintings depicting the Passion of Jesus from 1372–1373. In the centre of the room hangs a golden chandelier which resembles a grand crown, for the King of Kindness. Inside the Chapel, relics of the Saint are still housed inside his tomb, seen below covered in...
For those of you who have the courage and energy, be sure to climb the High Towerto get some of the most impressive views of the city and courtyards below. The bell atop the tower is named “Sigismund Bell” and was forged in 1549. It is Bohemia’s largest bell and to hear it ring out is a great thing to hear.
For more information about regular services and special ceremonies see website of the St. Vitus Cathedral. Great South Tower of St. Vitus Cathedral . 10.00 – 18.00 Last entrance is always at 17.30. Exhibition halls . 10.00 – 18.00. Prague Castle Riding School, Imperial Stables, Theresian Wing, Royal Summer Palace. Prague Castle Gardens. 10 ...
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