Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral

Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral

High on a hill across the Vltava (Moldau) River stands the most famous landmark of Prague, the castle complex with palace, cathedral, basilica and other buildings. The cathedral was first built by King (“Saint”) Wenceslaus in the 10th century, and was built over many times. Interesting info from Wikipedia: The current cathedral is the third of a series of religious buildings at the site, all dedicated to St. Vitus. The first church was an early Romanesque rotunda founded by Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia in 925. This patron saint was chosen because Wenceslaus had acquired a holy relic – the arm of St. Vitus – from Emperor Henry I. It is also possible that Wenceslaus, wanting to convert his subjects to Christianity more easily, chose a saint whose name (Svatý Vít in Czech) sounds very much like the name of Slavic solar deity Svantevit. Two religious populations, the increasing Christian and decreasing pagan community, lived simultaneously in Prague castle at least until the 11th century.

In the year 1060, as the bishopric of Prague was founded, prince Spytihněv II embarked on building a more spacious church, as it became clear the existing rotunda was too small to accommodate the faithful. A much larger and more representative romanesque basilica was built in its spot. Though still not completely reconstructed, most experts agree it was a triple-aisled basilica with two choirs and a pair of towers connected to the western transept. The design of the cathedral nods to Romanesque architecture of the Holy Roman Empire, most notably to the abbey church in Hildesheim and the Speyer Cathedral. The southern apse of the rotunda was incorporated into the eastern transept of the new church because it housed the tomb of St. Wenceslaus, who had by now become the patron saint of the Czech princes. A bishop’s mansion was also built south of the new church, and was considerably enlarged and extended in the mid 12th-century.” The current Gothic structure was begun in the 14th century, but not actually completed until 1929 for the 600th Jubilee of St. Wenceslaus.

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About pcooperwhite

Christiane Brooks Johnson Professor of Psychology and Religion, Union Theological Seminary, New York NY
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2 Responses to Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral

  1. Steve Hayner says:

    Pam,
    I am so enjoying following some of your adventures. I look forward to the pictures as they are posted. Prague, for example, is one of my top 3 cities in all of Europe (and I haven’t been there in a decade). We miss you!!!
    Joyfully,
    Steve

  2. Pingback: FABULOUS COMPOSITIONS/COMPOSERS: SMETANA MA VLAST – MOLDAU | euzicasa

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