After our first tour in the old town, we visit the Hradčany the next morning. Correctly speaking, we visit the Prague Castle with the St. Vitus Cathedral.
Hradčany is the name of the castle hill. But today it is a synonym for hill including the castle.
We enter the Prague Castle through an entrance gate and are in the courtyard of the New Royal Palace, now the seat of the Czech President. After passing another gate, we stand directly in front of St Vitus Cathedral.
It is about half past nine, and a small queue formed already. But contrary to our fears, we can enter the cathedral after another 5 minutes.
St. Vitus Cathedral
The overwhelming structure was built in a construction period of 600 years. Construction began in 1344 after Prague was appointed archbishopric.
Only in 1929, the construction was completed. The St. Vitus Cathedral is 124 m long, 60 m wide and the nave has a height of 33 m. The south tower is 99 m high. The client was Prince Charles, later King Charles IV.
After entering the cathedral, we are standing at the very end of the monumental nave. In the middle of the choir is the mausoleum of the Habsburgs. It was built in the 16th century.
The cathedral became famous for its magnificent, colorful glass windows.
The most famous one is painted by Art Nouveau artist Alfons Mucha and is located directly to the left of the entrance.
The other windows are glass mosaic windows and were created by Max Svabinsky.
The cathedral houses a number of relics, including the skull of Saint Vitus. We first go along the left side.
Here are the chapels of St. Sigismund as well as the chapel and the tomb of St. Vitus, name-giving for the cathedral.
After we walked around the altar, we reach, on the right side, the altar with the relics of St. Nepomuk.
The Baroque high altar was designed according to designs by Fischer von Erlach and a model by Antonio Corradini and the silversmith Johann Joseph Würth.
The Royal Oratory is direct access from the castle and was used by Emperor Charles IV.
Now we visit the St Wenceslas Chapel, richly decorated with semi-precious stones, the most precious area of St. Vitus Cathedral. St Wenceslas is the patron saint of Bohemia and has his final resting place here.
The chapel is the coronation place of the Bohemian kings and queens. The Bohemian crown jewels are also kept here.
We go back a few meters, where previously too many people were standing, and take another look in the Holy Cross Chapel.
Below is the Royal Tomb, which was not accessible at this time. Among others, it houses the tombs of Rudolf II, Rudolf II, Charles IV.
We leave the St. Vitus Cathedral. From the outside, the golden gate located next to the south gate is very worth seeing. Above the gate is a portrait of the Last Judgment.
Old Royal Palace
We walk to the Old Royal Palace. The core of the palace is the large Vladislav Hall. It is 62 m long, 16 m wide and 13 m high. In addition to markets and Knights games that took place here, coronation ceremonies were held for the kings, and since 1934, the president has been elected here.
An adjoining room of the Vladislav Hall was the scene of the Second Defenestration of Prague, which marks the beginning of the Thirty Years’ War.
At the end of the Thirty Years’ War, Christina of Sweden arranged the Prague art theft. A large part of Emperor Rudolf II’s art collection, over 700 paintings, and famous manuscripts were brought to Sweden. Many pieces of the Prague booty are now on display in Stockholm and Gripsholm Castle.
A fire destroyed the Old Diet, the assembly hall, in 1541. Bonifaz Wolmut rebuilt it between 1559 and 1563.
Then we come to the Hall of the Land Rolls. Only the one whose possessions are listed on the land rolls is part of the nobility and has the right to attend the sessions and votes in the Diet.
A visit to the Convent of Saint George is the next item on our agenda. The Benedictine Oder of nuns was closely connected with the ruling Premyslid dynasty.
After its destruction during the Hussite wars, one rebuilt the monastery that remained until 1782. The Basilica, dedicated to Saint George, is the second oldest church in Prague.
Today the basilica serves the National Gallery as an exhibition space and concert hall.
At times, the basilica served as the burial place of Bohemian rulers and important religious personalities. The shrines of Vratislav I and Boleslav II of Bohemia are well known.
Likewise, the holy Ludmilla of Bohemia is buried here. Ludmilla became known as the first Czech martyr.
As part of Prague’s Old Town, the St Vitus Cathedral and the Prague Castle have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1992.
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