Architecture - Cathedral of St. Vitus
Chrám Sv. Víta (Cathedral of St. Vitus)
Church since 1737
St. Vitus's Cathedral is the
largest and the most important church in Prague. Apart from
divine services the coronations of Czech kings and queens
also took place in it. The remains of provincial patron
saints, sovereigns, noblemen and archbishops are interred
The cathedral is the third
church consecrated to the same saint on the identical site.
About the year 925 Prince Vaclav I founded a Romanesque
rotunda here which after 1060 was converted into a
triple-naved basilica with two steeples. The importance of
the cathedral 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 choir with a ring of chapels, St.
Wenceslas's Chapel, the Golden Portal and the lower part of
the main steeple. In spite of the endeavours of some
sovereigns to secure the continuation of the construction
work the cathedral remained uncompleted for whole centuries.
The main steeple was crowned with a Renaissance helmet and
the music choir was built. The facade of the cathedral was
It was not until the latter half of the 19th century that
the Union for the Completion of the Building of St. Vitus's
Cathedral began the repair of the original part and the
completion of the building of the cathedral in Neo-Gothic
style. The cathedral 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 Courtyards 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.
The construction of the large southern steeple was started
by Peter Parler, but he did not complete it. It gained its
originally planned height after being provided with a
Renaissance helmet in the 16th century. St. Wenceslas's
Chapel partly reaches on to the area of the transverse nave.
The different conception of its architecture and its
magnificent decoration emphasize its importance as the
central point of the cathedral as a whole. The solemn
entrance to the cathedral, the Golden Portal, affords access
to the chapel from the Third Courtyard.
Situated in the choir of
the cathedral, in front of the high alter, is the royal
mausoleum below which, in the crypt, there is the royal tomb.
The choir is surrounded by a ring of Gothic chapels. Czech
sovereigns and patron saints are interred in some of them.