Wednesday April 1st 2020 | Prague

St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague

St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague

Located at the top of the hill, standing out within the Prague Castle complex, we find the colossal St. Vitus Cathedral of Prague forming part of its silhouette, the whole complex being one of the most sought-after photographs of the Czech capital. If you want to know more, we will tell you right away!

 

St. Vitus Cathedral: history and construction

 

The cathedral stands on top of an old basilica from the time of Septinev II (1055-1061), which had been built by replacing an earlier small church erected by Wenceslas I (921-935).

The construction of the cathedral was started by Charles IV in 1344. The architect Mathieu d'Arras, who came from Avignon, began the work and introduced French Gothic into Bohemia. Work began on the choir and chapels.

At his death, the work is continued by the architect Peter Parler, who came from Germany. He finished the central nave, the system of buttresses and the St. Wenceslas Chapel. He also provided the cathedral with a monumental entrance, the Porta Aurea (Golden Door) on the south facade.

 

The door was decorated by artists who came from Italy and made a magnificent mosaic with golden tesserae, which makes it worthy of its name. When the sun reflects on them, the door shines like gold, leaving those who contemplate it dazzled. 

 

Construction was interrupted in 1419 when the Hussites' War began. We will have to wait a few centuries to be able to finish the work on this temple. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that work was resumed.

In 1861 Josef Kraner began work on the extension of the cathedral. He was succeeded by Josef Mocker and it was Kamil Hilbert who completed the western façade, through which the church is now accessed. The temple was consecrated in 1929, coinciding with the millennium of the death of St. Wenceslas, patron saint of the Czech Republic.

 

St. Vitus Cathedral, pantheon and banner of the ancient kings of Bohemia

 

The cathedral is currently dedicated to three saints: St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert. St. Vitus for the relic, a gift from Henry I of Saxony to Wenceslaus. The latter being the one who later became St. Wenceslas. St. Adalbert was a tenth century bishop who died a martyr for introducing Christianity to this region.

In its interior the Chapel of San Wenceslao stands out, constructed on the one that was its tomb and where in its day the initial reliquary church was located. It is a Gothic jewel because of its decoration based on paintings with motifs from the life of the saint and because of its golden coating inlaid with jasper and amethyst. A jewel of the baroque, the tomb of San Juan de Nepomuceno. Made in silver and with a height of 5 meters.

The most sought-after stained glass window is the one made by the Czech artist Alfons Mucha in which an allegory of the Slavic peoples is depicted, glorifying St. Cyril and St. Methodius who introduced Christianity to the Czech lands.

 

St. Vitus Cathedral became the religious and political heart of Bohemia. It was the mausoleum of the kings of Bohemia and between the years 1347-1836 22 kings were crowned with the crown of St. Wenceslas, also guarded in this temple in the Crown Chamber, closed with 7 keys since it keeps the most valuable treasures of the cathedral. 

 

This is the incredible but true story of how a small reliquary church built in the 10th century has become this impressive temple. Do you want to get to know St. Vitus Cathedral up close? Join us in our Free Castle Tour of Prague

 

Tags: cathedral , Prague

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