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The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert (Czech: metropolitní katedrála svatého Víta, Václava a Vojtěcha) is a Roman Catholic metropolitan cathedral in Prague, the seat of the Archbishop of Prague. Until 1997, the cathedral was dedicated only to Saint Vitus, and is still commonly named only as St. Vitus Cathedral.
- Later years
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 St. Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert Cathedral offers a free space of quiet, concentration and orientation, a space that is very necessary today. It has grown out of the oldest layers of our country’s history, it is a sum of Christianity and the whole of our civilization and together with us it rises towards the heavenly Jerusalem.
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.
As well as being the largest and most important temple in Prague, St. Vitus Cathedral has also overseen the coronation of Czech kings and queens. In the chancel of the cathedral, in front of the high alter, is the royal mausoleum. Below this, in the crypt, there are the royal tombs. Czech kings and queens, and patron saints of the country are interred here. St. Wenceslas Chapel is decorated with frescoes and semi-precious stones. A door in the south-western corner of the chapel leads to the ...
- Location, Map, Opening Hours, Tickets & Entrance Fee
- Virtual Tour of St. Vitus Cathedral
- Parts of The St. Vitus Cathedral
The cathedral’s history is connected to some of the most famous personalities in Czech history. The celebrated King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, for example, began the construction of the present-day Gothic Cathedral in 1344. He intended to make it a coronation church, family crypt, treasury for the most precious relics of the kingdom, and the last resting place (and pilgrimage site) of probably the most significant Czech patron saint, Wenceslaus.St. Vitus Cathedral, or to us...
Visitors enter the cathedral through the portal in the western facade, opposite the passageway between the Second and Third Courtyard of Prague Castle. There are several tram stops nearby (Královský letohrádek, Pražský hrad, Pohořelec) and also two metro stations (Malostranská and Hradčanská). Usually visitors take tram No. 22 (to Pražský hrad tram stop) and leave via the Old Castle Stairs to Malostranská metro station.Opening hours during the summer (April – October) are 9 am to 5 pm and 9 a...
On the official Prague castle website you can also take a nice virtual tour of the whole complex, including the St. Vitus Cathedral.Go to https://www.hrad.cz/en/prague-castle-for-visitors/virtual-tour, click on the map icon in the top-right corner and select “Cathedral of St. Vitus”.
St. Wenceslas Chapel is the cult centre of St. Vitus Cathedral. Its magnificent decoration emphasizes its singularity as the central point of the cathedral with the tomb of the most important Czech patron saint. Wenceslas I (also known as Wenceslaus or Václav in Czech) was the Duke of Bohemia from 921 until his assassination in 935, in a plot by his own brother Boleslav the Cruel. Václav was considered a martyr and a saint immediately after his death, when a cult of Wenceslas arose in Bohemia...
- West Side
- South Side
- Golden Portal
When you walk from the II courtyard to the III courtyard the first thing you notice is the impressive western part of St Vitus Cathedral. There is also the official main entrance to the cathedral. This part of the cathedral is the newest, it was built at the turn of the 19th and the 20th century (see St Vitus Cathedral History). The western part of the cathedral is characterized by two tall towers and the Rose Window. The author of this window, Frantisek Kysela, let himself inspire by old gothic windows in famous cathedrals in Paris. Notice four figures at the bottom of the window, two at at each side. They represent important people in the newest reconstruction of the cathedral.
When you continue to the III courtyard pasing the Old Provosty, you may notice that the part of St Vitus Cathedral from the Renaissance Bell Tower with the Baroque ‘helmet’ to the Gothic part on the right come from the times of the famous architect Petr Parler and his two sons. The dominant of this side, the Bell Tower, holds Zikmund, the biggest bell in the Czech Republic.
To the right of the tower is the former main entrance to the cathedral called Golden Portal. A large mosaicabove the entrance was made in a Bohemian glass factory with the assistance of Italian artists. It depicts the Last Judgement. Jesus is surrounded by angels and the kneeling Czech patrons – St Prokop, St Zikmund and St Vitus on the left and St Wenceslas, St Ludmila and St Vojtech on the right. The mosaic covers an area of 82 square meters.
Nov 17, 2020 · St Vitus Cathedral in Prague looks so familiar to me the first time I laid my eyes on its massive Gothic structure. I was pretty sure I’ve seen it somewhere but I had a hard time remembering it.
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