St Vitus Cathedral | The Gothic Cathedral Inside Prague Castle
The magnificent St. Vitus Cathedral was founded in 1344 on the site of the original Romanesque rotunda. This Gothic cathedral is a spiritual symbol of the Czech state that took nearly 600 years to finish being constructed. It was completed only in 1929 and is a vital part of the history of Prague Castle. Its grand interiors boast a range of wonders including the the beautifully decorated St Wenceslas Chapel with the tomb of St Wenceslas, the crypt where many Czech kings are buried, and the Crown Chamber, home to the crown jewels. Your access to the St. Vitus Cathedral is included with your admission tickets to Prague Castle.
Why Visit St. Vitus Cathedral?
There's much to admire in the royal St. Vitus Cathedral especially the beautiful stained glass windows. Look out for the one by famous Czech painter Alfons Mucha located in the third chapel on the left-hand side. The interior of the cathedral is home to wonders such as the stunningly decorated St Wenceslas Chapel with the tomb of St Wenceslas, the crypt where Czech kings are buried, and the Crown Chamber, where the Crown Jewels are kept. St. Vitus Cathedral also contains the silver sarcophagus of St. John of Nepomuk which is the heaviest of its kind in the Czech Republic! The Great South Tower of the Cathedral was built in the late 14th century. It was later reconstructed in the 16th and 18th centuries. The tower holds the largest bell in the Czech Republic, called Zikmund. At the center of the cathedral you will also get to view eight heavily gilded statues of Czech patron saints.
St. Vitus Cathedral Facts
- The St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague castle is one of the most important buildings in the Czech republic and former Bohemian kingdom.
- The Gargoyles of St. Vitus Cathedral were actually created by multiple sculptors. Due to this, you won’t find two similar ones on the facade.
- Even before it was completely built, St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague regularly held masses, funerals, and coronations.
- The most difficult thing to construct in the St. Vitus Cathedral was the vaulting system. However, its construction was not documented in the middle ages.
Origins Of St. Vitus Cathedral
The construction of the present-day Gothic Cathedral started on 21 November 1344. King John of Bohemia laid the foundation stone for the new building and construction later continued under the reign of Charles IV. Mathew of Arras and Peter Parler were the two architects who worked on the construction of St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle.
Construction had to be stopped when a new king, Charles's son Wenceslas IV, came to power. When the Hussite War broke out in 1419, St. Vitus Cathedral stood unfinished for almost 600 years! The war and a fire heavily damaged parts of the cathedral and its furnishings.
Completion Of Construction Of St. Vitus Cathedral
Only in the latter half of the 19th century was the construction complete in a Neo-Gothic style. In 1844, Václav Pešina along with Neo-Gothic architect Josef Kranner presented a program for the renovation and completion of the cathedral at a gathering of German architects in Prague.
The church was solemnly consecrated in 1929 at the time of St. Wenceslas's jubilee. Despite the western half having many Neo-Gothic elements, during the restoration, many of Peter Parler's designs were used to give it a unified look.
In 1954, a government decree place the whole of Prague Castle into ownership of "all Czechoslovak people" and into the administration of the President's Office. St. Vitus Cathedral continues to remain as one of the important ecclesiastical buildings in the Czech Republic.
The Influence of St. Vitus Cathedral
Undoubtedly, the St. Vitus Cathedral has had a major influence on the development of Late Gothic style elements in Central Europe. Members of the Parler family designed numerous buildings across Central Europe and also in the Czech Republic.
The Gothic styles of Slovenia, Austria, northern Croatia, and southern Germany were all tremendously influenced by the Parler family's design. The Late Gothic of Central Europe is characterized by ornate vaulting which was originally started by Parler and his development of the vaulting system for the choir of St. Vitus cathedral. Scholars also speculate that the St. Vitus Cathedral also influenced the development of English Gothic.
The Interior of St. Vitus Cathedral
St. Vitus Cathedral is a stunning example of Gothic architecture. Its interiors are filled with exquisite architecture that makes it a must-see attraction for any visitor. Inside the cathedral, you will see stained glass windows, intricately carved wooden doors, and several other marvels of design and decor. St. Wenceslas Chapel is a highlight of the interiors of the cathedral. The interior of the cathedral also houses the crown jewels and the royal tombs but these are not accessible to visitors at all times. You will also find the Wallenstein Chapel inside the St. Vitus Cathedral that has the worn grave slabs of cathedral architects Matthias of Arras and Peter Parler. The Royal Oratory, a fancy balcony with ribbed vaulting carved to look like tree branches is also visible to visitors inside the cathedral. The choir window, the Schwarzenberg chapel, the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre and the Chapel of Virgin Mary are marvelously designed and are must-see attractions within the interior of the cathedral.
Know Before You Visit St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague
During the summer tourist season from (April 1 till October 31) the timings are:
Monday - Saturday: 09 AM – 05 PM;
Sunday: 12 PM - 05 PM
During the winter tourist season from ((November 1 till March 31) the timings are:
Monday - Saturday: 09 AM – 04 PM
Sunday: 12 PM - 04 PM
St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague is located within Prague Castle.
Address: Hradčany, 119 08 Prague 1, Czechia
By Tram: No 22 & 23. The nearest station is Pražský hrad, from which the 2nd Courtyard of the Prague Castle is a 5 min walk.
Alternate Tram Route: No 22 & 23. Get down at Pohořelec instead of Pražský hrad and enjoy a scenic 10 minute down the hill walk to the Castle via Courtyard IV.
By Metro: Line A (Green). Nearest station Malostranská, which is a 7 minute 500m walk to the Castle.
St. Vitus Cathedral Highlights
St. Wenceslas Chapel
St. Wenceslas Chapel is at the center of St. Vitus Cathedral and is known for its grandeur. It is home to the tomb of the most important Czech patron saint - St. Wenceslas. The walls boast a range of precious stones (nearly 1300) and the paintings of the Passion Cycle which are both parts of the original decoration of the cathedral from the 14th century.The upper areas have paintings depicting the life of St. Wenceslas, by the Master of the Litoměřice Altarpiece between 1506 and 1509. A Gothic statue of St. Wenceslas was created by Jindrich Parler (Peter's nephew) in 1373. The Chapel is not open to visitors, it can only be viewed from the doorways.
Stained Glass Windows
The Cathedral has extraordinary stained glass windows with the greatest attention to detail. In the Middle Ages, there was a belief that the light in a church is celestial. The Cathedral lights up in rainbow colors when sun beams fall on it. Several Czech artists, including the famous painter Alfons Mucha, worked on the stained glass windows.
In the southwest corner of the St. Wenceslas Chapel lies a small door with seven locks. This leads to the Crown chamber which contains Czech Crown Jewels. These precious jewels are displayed to the public only once every eight years. It is the least accessible place in the castle. The President of the Republic has the exclusive right to decide on the display of the Crown Jewels. The oldest item of the Crown Jewels is the St. Wenceslas Crown decorated with precious stones and pearls.
All Your Questions About St. Vitus Cathedral Answered
A: Czech patron saint - St. Wenceslas is buried at St. Wenceslas Chapel.
A: You can enter the Cathedral through the portal in the western façade. This is opposite the passage-way between the Second and Third Courtyard of Prague Castle.
A.Yes, your Prague Castle tickets provide access to the St. Vitus Cathedral and other important structures.
A: You can reach Prague Castle and the St. Vitus Cathedral within it by trams no. 22 and 23 from metro station Malostranska (stop Prazsky hrad) or from metro station Malostranska by Old Royal Steps.
A: Yes, Prague Castle follows all COVID-19 regulations.
A: You need a minimum of 2-3 hours to tour Prague Castle and see all its sights.