St. Vitus Cathedral – the Depository of Bohemian Coronation Jewels. Who would not know one of the largest and also most significant Prague cathedrals. Are you still in the dark which jewel of Czech sacred buildings we are talking about? The guide to the Prague Castle is here for you.
You can see this unique building on your tour of the Third Courtyard in the Prague Castle. Yes, right, it is the St. Vitus Cathedral. In the past, the cathedral saw not only church services but also coronations of Kings and Queens of Bohemia. This sacred place is the burial place of Bohemian patron saints, kings, noblemen and archbishops.
The present day cathedral is the third sacred building consecrated to one patron in one place. Around 925 Saint Wenceslas Czech prince, founded here a Romanesque rotunda. After 1060, the rotunda was rebuilt into a three-nave basilica with two towers. In 973, a bishopric was founded in Prague. It was a very important moment in the history of the whole cathedral because a canonry was established here – the Metropolitan Chapter House of St.Vitus. It later became a very important institution.
Later, the three-nave basilica was replaced with a new building since in 1344 the Emperor Charles IV commenced the construction of a gothic cathedral. The cathedral was rising and other houses were annexed. Thanks to master builders such as Matthias of Arras and later also Peter Parler, this period saw the origin of unique items, for instance the chancel with a ring of chapels, the St. Wenceslaus’ Chapel, the Golden Portal and the bottom part of the great tower.
Other construction works
However, for many centuries, the cathedral stood only half-finished. Gradually, rulers started to take priority in finishing the building, still, the work took very long time. Therefore the great tower of the cathedral got a Renaissance helmet and a new organ gallery was built. Nevertheless, the face of the building remained closed.
Many years later, the Union for Completion of the Cathedral of St. Vitus decided to take significant steps. Thanks to this union, the original part of the building could be repaired in the late 19th century. It was a very important act for the salvation of the building. The Union also took care that the building was finished in the Neo-gothic style. The cathedral w
as ceremonially consecrated in 1929 and then once again modified including its whole interior.
Let’s go farther
Where can you actually enter this monumental building? We will get in through the portal in the western face opposite the passage-way between the Second and the Third courtyard of the Prague Castle. Surely, your attention will be firstly taken by a bronze door. It is decorated with beautiful reliefs with scenes from the history of the cathedral and from the legends of St. Wenceslaus and St. Adalbert. Now we are inside the cathedral whose Neo-gothic part consists of the main nave and adjacent narrow side aisles lined with chapels and also the northern wing of the transverse nave. Chapels are illuminated with stained glass. Another remarkable object is the great southern tower from the architect Peter Parler who actually did not manage to finish it. Now see the transverse nave with the Chapel of St. Wenceslaus which partly reaches there. The Golden Portal leads into the chapel. And what is it actually? It is the ceremonial entrance into the cathedral from the Third courtyard in the Prague Castle.
Situated in the chancel of the cathedral, in front of the high altar, is the royal mausoleum below which, in the crypt, there is a royal tomb. The chancel is surrounded by a ring of Gothic chapels. What makes the chapels so significant? Some of them contain remains of prominent rulers and patrons saints of Bohemia.
What is in the Chapel of St. Wenceslaus?
This chapel forms the centre of the whole cathedral. You will be certainly taken aback by its magnificent decoration. It contains the tomb of the most important patron saint of Bohemia in the central point of the cathedral. The walls are decorated with precious stones and original wall paintings from the 14th century. Further, the chapel is decorated with scenes from life of St. Wenceslaus from approx. 1509. In the end we will see the last jewels of the chapel. In the south-western corner you can find a door leading into the Crown Chamber where Czech coronation jewels are deposited. Therefore, if you are visiting the St. Vitus cathedral do not forget to see its beautiful decoration and also the site of the last rest of Czech rulers.
Prague Castle (Pražský hrad)
119 08 Prague 1 (119 08 Praha 1)
GPS: Loc: 50°5′23.591″N, 14°23′59.79″E
tram: number 1,8,15,18,20,22,26,
subway station , underground stop – Line A – Malostranská
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