The Cathedral of St. Vitus, the massive building, which dominates the Prague skyline, is what many people actually think is Prague Castle, because although it is very much a cathedral, it is at the heart of the castle complex.
The building has been developed, over the centuries, around the tomb of St. Wenceslas. St. Vitus's Cathedral was founded, by order of the Holy Roman Emperor, King Charles IV, the same man responsible for the construction of Charles Bridge, in 1344, on the site of an earlier church. There has been a religious building here ever since St. Wenceslas was buried on the hill, more than a thousand years ago.
Even earlier than that, this was an important pagan site, where Svatovit, the Slavic God of Fertility was worshipped. When the Slavs converted to Christianity, the name Svatovit was changed to the nearest-sounding saint's name, which happened to be svaty Vita, or St. Vitus in English.
Amazingly, construction was not finally completed until 1929, although, even when I was there, in 2001, there was still scaffolding and a lot of maintenance building work taking place.
The architect who designed the fourteenth century, Gothic structure, was the Frenchman, Matthew of Arras. When he died, his work was taken up by Peter Parler.
Inside there is a sombre, vaulted nave, illuminated by Venetian, stained glass windows, most of which are fairly recent additions.
The Chapel of St Wenceslas was built over his tenth century tomb, in the fourteenth century. It's decorated with more than 1,300 semi-precious stones. The Czech crown jewels are stored in a locked chamber to one side of the chapel.
To many people, St. Vitus Cathedral is Prague Castle. While the enormous Prague Castle complex includes many fine buildings, St. Vitus is the one that dominates the city skyline and is visible from far and wide.
Located inside Prague Castle St. Vitus Cathedral is building who dominates the city skyline and Castle and it is visible from far and wide. This beautiful cathedral is a Gothic masterpiece. It is Roman Catholic cathedral and the seat of the Archbishop of Prague. Work on the cathedral was commissioned by Charles IV and began in 1344. The final construction was during the period 1873 -1929. There you can found the tombs of many Bohemian kings.
March to October: Mon-Sat 09:00 – 17:00 Sun 12:00 – 16:15
November to February. Mon-Sat 09:00 – 16:00 Sun 12:00 – 16:00
Cost: Western section: free
Chapels, crypt,tower: 350 Kc -castle ticket valid 2 days
The Cathedral is probably on the 'must see' see list of every visitor to Prague. You can rent a 'radio guide' that tells you all about the things you are seeing (student discount available). This is very interesting, but incredibly detailed - in the end we preferred to use our guide book for snippets of information and just absorb the surroundings. Also, the guide is time-limited, so you may find yourself racing across the castle grounds to return it before the deadline! The Cathedral itself has the most stunning windows, such as the one pictured here. Be sure to take a trip to the top of the tower for fabulous views of the city
Located within the Prague Castle precinct the Cathedral is a magnificant building. Originaly built in 926 AD , it was in 1344 that the Gothic Cathedral of today was commenced. Built by Mathias of Arras and Petr Paler it was not completed until 1929, the building being 124 metres long and 100 metres high, the vault being 34 metres. When we visited part of the exterior was covered by scaffolding and we were informed that it had been this way for the last 10 years. Entry is free, however photos can only be taken without flash. Should you wish to climb the bell tower with its many steps there is a small fee.
Just on the heart of the Castle you will find the amazing Cathedral inside and outside :-) Take a look to the photos i took.
The entry to the church is free but you will not avail to rest on the floor or at the seats because the guards won't let you. I was so tiered because i walked until there (maybe 2 km) that i couldn't resist to sit on the floor, but i had to hear " get up, it is not allowed to sit there!"
Anyway, you will find some benches outside to rest a while.
Here in the city's largest holy site, is Praha's largest church, one of the defining images of this fine city.
3 -> churches have been on this site:
1st, a chapel in 925, founded by Prince Wenceslas.
2nd, a Romanesque basilica, completed the following century.
3rd, is the present Gothic structure, begun by Charles IV, 1344.
21-> total chapels in this cathedral
28-> piers supporting the roof, with 3 tiered domes, which holds the SIGISMUND, the largest bell in Bohemia.
297-> steps leading to the top of the tower
108 ft.-> height above the nave
407 ft.-> length of the cathedral
Katedrala svaty Vita occupies much of the central court of Praha Castle. Thanks to this enormous cathedral's location on top of castle hill, it dominates the skyline of the Mala Strana / Hradcanny district of Praha.
The original Romanesque Rotunda of svaty Vita was commissioned by King Wenceslas I in AD 925. The 22 year old monarch was murdered by his brother shortly after, and was entombed in the rotunda upon its completion. Construction of the cathedral was initiated in 1344 by the ambitious King Karluv IV. The cathedral was built to contain the original rotunda. Although most of the cathedral was completed within 200 years, it was not officially dedicated until 1929.
The architecture of the enormous cathedral is mainly Gothic, as is evidenced by the numerous bold vertical arches that dominate both the interior and exterior. The architecture is heavily influenced by the Byzantine and Venezian disciplines. Most of the beautiful Venezian stained glass windows were crafted about 150 years ago. Literally hundreds of scuptures of gargoyles, saints, etc. adorn the exterior corners.
Construction of Wentzel Tower lasted from 1406 until 1770. The upper section of the bell tower has a characteristic Rokoko double columned capital design. The two attached small towers help give Wentzel Tower a truly unforgetable appearance.
Photo #1 shows the massive cathedral from the rear. The copper mosaic roofs over the central nave and rear chapel are true art masterpieces. The photo was made in 2002 while scaffolding for cleaning was in place. Photo #2 shows the bell tower. Notice the onion domed domes on the rooms atop the four corners of the tower. The intricate detail of the Gothic arches is much more noticeable in this photo. The photo was made in April, 2003, after most of the sandblast cleaning was completed. Notice the difference in the appearance of the cathedral.
Photo #3 is a closeup view of the cathedral's lesser towers. The ornate Gothic exhuberance that dominated religious architecture during that era is evident.
Although I found Our Lady Before Tyn to be the most beautiful and haunting church in Prague, many consider St. Vitas to be the most beautiful and important church in the city. The cathedral was originally started in 1344 and was not considered completed until the 20th century. Today it houses the crown jewels and the tomb of Wenceslas.
Passing through the magnificent Baroque Mathias Gate to the Castle Courtyards and the Royal Palace, we come to the magnificent ST. VITUS CATHEDRAL wherein the Wenceslas Chapel houses the relics of the Czech Patron Saint.
"The Gothic Cathedral is an exceptional achievement. The structure, dark with age and solemnity, was meant not only as the principal church of the Castle but also as the spiritual centre of the whole country." -- V. Dudak.
I couldn't have said it better myself.
After seeing everything there is to see in St. Vitus Cathedral, if you have any energy left, you can climb the 300 foot tall tower. The tower is at the right hand side of the cathedral halfway to the altar, if you are standing in the back near the entrance.
It doesn't sound tough, but it is. 287 steps up a spiral staircase will leave you dizzy and gasping for air. Once at the top, you will be rewarded with some amazing views of Prague and the Prague Castle grounds. It is well worth the agony.
My advice - don't climb the St. Vitus Cathedral tower and the Petrin Tower in the same day like I did. Combined with all the walking I did that day, my legs felt like jello by the time I got back to my room. Save the Petrin Tower for another day.
The tower is available for climbing from April through October and only in good weather. You must purchase a tour package to climb.
My favourite part of our visit to Prague's castle was St Vitus’s Cathedral. This magnificent gothic cathedral is one of the prominent landmarks in Prague - you can see its main towers from across the city. It is the largest cathedral in the Czech Republic.
Inside you can see the impressive High Alter and some pretty impressive painted glass windows. There is also the Chapel of St Wenceslas and the silver tomb of St John of Nepomuk.
The outside is what captivated me so much...spectacular...and the subject of a large number of photos!
The picture of the stained glass here is the Alfons Mucha Window. The picture of the two men in the lower part of the window are the Saints Cyril and Methodius (you may remember them from an earlier tip as they have another cathedral named after them, and this is the cathedral where the Czech Paratroopers hid after they assassinated Heydrich).
These two saints (Cyril and Methodius) were originally from Thessaloniki in Greece and were responsible for bringing Christianity to the area in around 863. This stained glass window is on the left hand side of the church, shortly after you go in.
My second picture shows another example of stained glass in the cathedral. There is also a nice rose window (not shown here).
The tomb of St. Wenceslas is inside a chapel dedicated to the saint in St. Vitus Cathedral. It is the only chapel in the Cathedral that was built with closed walls. It is decorated with statues, frescoes, and a large chandelier. This is the most sacred area in the Czech Republic. The chapel is roped off, so you might have to fight off the crowds to get a good view at one of the two entrances.
St. Wenceslas is the patron saint of the Czech people. He was murdered by his brother, Boleslav I. To read the entire story of the life of St. Wenceslas, follow the link I found below.
I have seen many beautiful pictures of St. Vitas Cathedral. But I honestly do not know how they were taken. The cathedral is so tall and large in size, and is located in a very tight square that I found it impossible to get a good picture of the entire cathedral. Inside the cathedral is the beautiful and ornate St. Weneslas Chapel.