Nativity scene in the St Vitus Cathedral

Pražský hrad - III. nádvoří Praha 1 - Hradčany 119 01


St. Vitus, Václav and Vojtěch - Cathedral | Prague Castle - 3rd courtyardThe main and the largest Prague temple, spiritual symbol of the Bohemian state. It has been built in place where the episcopate was located, and later the archiepiscopate. In the choir, there is the bishops’ tribune, or cathedra, thus the term cathedral.On the 23rd April 1997, Cardinal Miroslav Vlk issued a decree on the basis of which the object acquired its original name again, Cathedral of St. Vitus, Václav and Vojtěch. The cathedral has been consecrated to three saints: Prince Václav (canonized later) established the third church at the Castle around 925 - Rotunda of St. Vitus. He did so because he received a precious relic as a gift from the Saxon Emperor Henry I the Fowler - a bone from St. Vitus’ arm, which was deposited in the built rotunda. When St. Václav was murdered, the rotunda became a place of his tomb, and he himself became a patron and saint of all Czechs. His sanctuary is still here today. The third saint to whom the cathedral has been consecrated is St. Vojtěch (or Adalbert), the second Bohemian bishop, killed during a missionary journey to the Prussians at the Elbe valley. His remains were brought back in 1039 and buried in the annex building to the rotunda.Spytihněv II had Václav’s rotunda demolished, as it was no longer sufficient for the needs of the Castle inhabitants, and in 1060 he built a more spacious Basilica of St. Vitus, Václav and Vojtěch. It was in place of this basilica, where Charles IV together with his father John of Bohemia established a magnificent temple in 1344 as the crowning church, burial place of kings, and a treasury for the most precious treasures. At that time the entire Castle went through reconstruction and Prague episcopate was promoted to archiepiscopate.The cathedral is made up of two parts: the Eastern part, which contains a choir with chapels and large bell tower, was built in the Gothic era of the 14th and 15th centuries; the Western part with the transept, a three-aisled space and the front with towers was only annexed in the 2nd half of the 19th century and in the beginning of the 20th century.The first builder was Matthias of Arras until 1352, and he was succeeded by a twenty-three-year-old Petr Parléř from Gmünd in Schwäben, who managed the construction and decorations until his death in 1399. The construction of the temple took nearly 600 years, and among the builders, there were Benedikt Ried, Bonifác Wohlmut, Hans Tirol, Oldřich Aostalis, and many others. In 1859, the Association for the completion of the St. Vitus temple was founded. In the 1860s, the restoration works were conducted by architect Josef Kranner, and in 1873, new building started according to the project of architect Josef Mocker, who was succeeded by architect Kamil Hilbert, who brought the construction to a successful finish in 1929, when the temple was festively consecrated on the occasion of the St. Václav’s Millennium. It was on the 12th May 1929 - the festive re-consecration.Proportions of the temple: it is 124 m long, with a maximum width of 60 m in the transept; the width in the Western front is 37.5 m, the vault is 33 m high. The main tower is 96.5 m high, the height of the Western front towers is 82 m, the width of the rosette within the Western front is 10.4 m.Cathedral’s Exterior The front with two slender towers is decorated with 14 statues of saints, Charles IV and archbishop Arnošt of Pardubice on pillars. Three portals with tympanons decorated with reliefs according to models of Karel Dvořák lead to the main aisle, with bronze doors with cast reliefs by Otakar Španiel. The rosette window above the portal with a diameter of 10 m has been created according to cartons of František Kysela on the theme of World’s Creation from 1921. The ceremonious entrance to the temple is located in the Southern front at the 3rd courtyard, the so

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