The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert
St. Vitus Cathedral is the largest and the most important temple in Prague. Apart from religious services, coronations of Czech kings and queens also took place here. The cathedral is a place of burial of several patron saints, sovereigns, noblemen and archbishops.
Who was Saint Vitus?
St. Vitus was the son of a pagan Sicilian senator. Vitus became a Christian under the influence of his Christian tutor Modestus and his Christian nurse Crescentia. He died as a martyr during the persecution of Christians by co-ruling Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian in 303. Vitus is counted as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of medieval Roman Catholicism. He is the patron of epileptics, those afflicted with St. Vitus' Dance (named after him}, dancers, and actors, and is a protector against storms. His feast day is June 15th.
16th century Germans believed they could get a year’s good health by dancing before the statue of Saint Vitus on his feast day. This dancing developed almost into a mania, and was confused with a “nervous disease” and the saint being invoked against it. But that connection with such manic “dancing” led on to his patronage of dancers, and later of entertainers in general.
ᛏ Eastern facade of the cathedral. ᛏ
Architect(s): Peter Parler, Matthias of Arras
Site of two previous churches (the first being an early Romanesque rotunda founded by Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia in 930; 1060 saw the building of a much larger Romanesque Basilica)
Current church built between 1344 and 1929
The St. Vitus Cathedral is part of the larger Prague Castle. Upon entering you can see the Gothic towers of St. Vitus poking their heads out above all the other red roof buildings surrounding it. 𐰸 𐰸
𐰸 Visitors enter the Cathedral through the portal in the western facade, opposite the passage-way between the Second and Third Courtyard of Prague Castle. 𐰸
Its bronze door is decorated with reliefs with scenes from the history of the Cathedral and from the legends about St. Wenceslaus and St. Adalbert. 𐰸 𐰸
𐰸 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. 𐰸 𐰸
In the cross nave, the ceremonial entrance into the Cathedral can be seen - the Golden Gate - leading to the Third Courtyard. 𐰸 𐰸
Another fascinating feature of the Golden Gate is the many figurines attached to the it. 𐰸 𐰸
𐰸 True to Gothic form, the cathedral is home to many gargoyles. 𐰸
St. Wenceslaus Chapel
Who is St. Wenceslaus and why was he so revered by the Czech people?
Born in 907, Wenceslas was a member of the Přemysl dynasty that would rule Bohemia from the ninth century to 1306. Wenceslas (Václav in Czech) served as duke of Bohemia from 921 until his death in 929 or 935. Though he died young, this martyr’s accomplishments were many. He built numerous churches in Bohemia and was deeply respected as a pious, moral, educated and intelligent man who promoted the Christian faith and took care of the poor, the sick, the widowed and the orphaned by doing charitable deeds. He even founded the rotunda of Saint Vitus at Prague Castle. Wenceslaus is the first Czech saint and the patron saint of the Czech state.
𐰸 The St. Wenceslaus Chapel 𐰸
The chapel is a cult centre of St. Vitus Cathedral, and contains the relics of St. Wenceslaus. It was constructed between 1344 and 1364. Above the altar, is a Gothic statue of the saint created by Jindrich Parler (Peter's nephew) in 1373. Its magnificent decoration and the different conception of its architecture emphasize its singularity as the central point of the Cathedral with the tomb of the most important Czech patron saint. The facing of the walls, consisting of precious stones, and the wall paintings of the Passion Cycle are parts of the original 14th-century decoration of the chapel. The scenes from the life of St. Wenceslaus form another decorative band are attributed to the workshop of the Master of the Litomerice Altar (the cycle dates back to 1509).
𐰸 Another view of the chapel where you can see the rib vaults and the intricate detail of the decoration. 𐰸
The door in the south-western corner of the chapel leads to the Crown Chamber in which the Bohemian Coronation Jewels are kept. 𐰸 𐰸
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Naumburg Cathedral (The Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul)
Located in the eastern part of the Thuringian Basin, the Cathedral of Naumburg, whose construction began in 1028, is an outstanding testimony to medieval art and architecture. Its Romanesque structure, flanked by two Gothic choirs, demonstrates the stylistic transition from late Romanesque to early Gothic. The west choir, dating to the first half of the 13th century, reflects changes in religious practice and the appearance of science and nature in the figurative arts. The choir and life-size sculptures of the founders of the Cathedral are masterpieces of the workshop known as the ‘Naumburg Master’.
Margrave Ekkehard II and Uta, two of the 12 donor "portraits".
Master of Naumburg, Rood screen at Naumburg Cathedral.
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