Sunday, October 28, 2012

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague

In the middle of Prague Castle is the Cathedral of St. Vitus. Originally the site of a chapel in the 900s, the current Gothic building was begun under Charles IV in 1344. It was not completed until 1929 and exhibits the many different architectural styles through the centuries. The building has a crypt with the remains of royalty and a special room with seven locks holds the Czech crown jewels (the cathedral was used for the coronation of Czech monarchs). We were not able to see much of the church since we didn't have tickets, but even a quick look in the nave and the exterior is quite impressive.

Front exterior of St. Vitus Cathedral

Western door of the cathedral

The nave is large and spacious. It is lined with many side altars dedicated to various saints.


Gate to one of the side altars

Side altar

Windy stairs we couldn't go up, alas!

The stained glass dates from various periods from the 1400s to the 1900s.

Stained glass judgment

More glorious stained glass

The exterior also has many fine works, including the bridge from the Royal Palace. The Golden Gate on the south doorway has an excellent mosaic of the Last Judgment.

Royal Bridge to the cathedral

Golden Gate

A great statue near the Golden Gate

The south tower

Who was St. Vitus?

St. Vitus was a Christian from Sicily in the early 300s. He was martyred under the reign of Diocletian and Maximillian. Legend states that he was thrown into a vat of boiling oil but escaped unharmed. His relics wound up in the German abbey of Corvey. In 956, the German King Henry I made a gift of the bones from one of the saint's hands to Wenceslaus, Duke of Bohemia. Those relics are enshrined in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. The saint is invoked against epilepsy (because of the associated "St. Vitus' Dance") and his feast day is June 15.

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