Cathedral of St. Vitus at Prague Castle

Cathedral of St. Vitus

Cathedral of St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert is together with entire Prague Castle the natural centerpiece and the heart of Czech lands and the symbol of the Czech national and state identity. The present temple is a three-aisled cathedral with transept, triforium, ring of chapels and three towers. In terms of art history is St. Vitus Cathedral composed of two parts. The eastern part consists of a choir with chapels and large bell tower; it is a part of Gothic period of the 14th and 15th century. The western part contains the transept, three-nave and facade with towers; it was built up during the neo-Gothic completion in the 2nd half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.

 

History of St. Vitus Cathedral

 

The oldest architectural fragments of the original St. Vitus Cathedral, which was in the form of rotunda and was founded by the prince St. Wenceslas. Rotunda was completed sometime in the thirties of the 10th century and soon after that were the remains of its founder Prince St. Wenceslas placed here. Later on was the rotunda rebuilt into a new three-aisled Basilica of St. Vitus, St. Adalbert and of the Virgin Mary. Like the rotunda, also basilica is preserved in architectural elements of today´s underground cathedral, because the building stands over the tomb of St. Wenceslas. Establishment of the Prague Archbishopric, during the reign of pope Clement VI. in 1344, led to the decision of the new cathedral construction. The foundation stone of St. Vitus Cathedral was laid on 21st November 1344 by the King John of Luxembourg, Crown Prince and Moravian Margrave Charles (later Emperor and King) and Archbishop Ernst of Pardubice.

 

The one, who was in charge of building new cathedral, was the French master Mathias of Arras. After his death in 1352 was his work followed by Peter Parler, who worked on the cathedral until 1399, when his son John and masters Wenseslas and Peter overtook his duty. Cathedral´s construction continued until 1420, when the Hussite wars violently stopped the building operations. Construction was renewed during the reign of king Vladislav II. Jagiello, when builders Hanus Spiess and after him also Benedikt Ried developed a project of catherdral´s completion. In year 1477 was also cast a bell called Zikmund. However, the work was stopped in 1541 because of a devastating fire, which caused desolation and destruction in the cathedral. King Ferdinand I. assigned the task of reconstruction to court architects Paolo della Stella, Hanus Tirol and especially to Boniface Wohlmut. Recovery lasted more than twenty years.

 

Another major reconstruction, this time in the Baroque style, was to be held for king Leopold I. in 1673. As a result of the Turkish threat, was the work on the building in its early start interrupted. During the Seven Years War, in 1757, was the St. Vitus Cathedral destroyed in the course of the Prussian siege. Marie Therese had repaired the temple and in 1770 was also a Renaissance tower roof replaced by higher Baroque roof, which we can admire to these days.

 

On 1st October 1873 (during the celebration of 900 year bishopric) cardinal Schwarzenberg laid the foundation stone (fourth already) for the completion of the St. Vitus Cathedral. Completion of the construction took place under the leadership of Joseph Andrew Kranner (Josef Ondřej Kranner) according to his own design in the spirit of romantic gothic. After Kranner took over the building architect Josef Mocker, a representative of maintaining strict stylistic purity and neo-gothic architecture. The last one, who took part in the building completion, was Kamil Hilbert, who completed the temple completion on the doorstep of St. Wenceslas millenium.

 

The consecration took place on Sunday, 12th May 1929 and the cathedral was inaugurated and officially opened on 28th September 1929. Simultaneous initiation of the St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert Cathedral was restored in 1997. Before that was the cathedral officially dedicated only to St. Vitus. No other monument in the Czech Republic is so strongly marked by the history of Czech lands and their inhabitants as it is in this cathedral.

10.1.2012 | Prague guide | Cities |
Cathedral of St. Vitus
Cathedral of St. Vitus
Cathedral of St. Vitus
Cathedral of St. Vitus
Cathedral of St. Vitus
Cathedral of St. Vitus
Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

User login