As I mentioned in another post, there’s a tourism joke about going to ABC… Another Bloody Church. They all do tend to run together after a while. But I thought the St. Vitus Cathedral was worthy of spotlighting. It was founded in 1344, but not completed until 1929 – nearly 600 years later. The construction work was basically abandoned between the mid 16th century and the mid 19th century.
Although mainly Gothic in style, the building reflects its construction over many centuries. The upper part of the clock tower is in Renaissance style and topped with a Baroque dome. When construction and renovation resumed around 1860, the Baroque decor was removed, and the cathedral was completed in neo-Gothic style. In the 1920’s, beautiful Art Nouveau windows were designed.
It’s such a mixture of styles, and yet, it works. Unlike most of the cathedrals I visited, with their over-the-top decorations, this cathedral is much more simply decorated – it’s beauty lies in the vastness of the sweeping architecture:
And the beautiful stained-glass windows designed by famous Czech artists, such as this one designed by artist Alfons Mucha. The window in the photo below is the Pentecost window, designed by 1930’s by artist Max Švabinský.
Our tour guide told us to pay particular attention to the pane in the lower right corner, which contains a man holding a pretzel:
I don’t remember the details of the story, but basically we were told that when the church needed renovations, many wealthy people were asked to donate funds. Some of the money came from a wealthy pretzel baker, and this was a concession to him. I guess it’s not any different from today’s practice of naming buildings after wealthy donors.
The rose window was particularly spectacular, though I don’t have a photo of it from the interior.
And do you see what’s in the lower left corner? Awesome gargoyles.
But if cathedrals aren’t your style, how about this? The “Old New Synagogue“, which is Europe’s oldest active synagogue – completed in 1270, and one of Prague’s earliest Gothic buildings:
Legend has it that the body of Golem lies in the attic.
I’ll end the Prague tour with sunset at the Charles Bridge, built during the mid 14th century and the early 15th century. During the day, the statue-lined bridge is filled with street vendors and performers, and bustling with tourists.
The best time to visit the bridge is at sunrise, but since we didn’t have the chance to do that, sunset was our only choice. But even then, the view of the river and the city were gorgeous.
More of my photos of Prague can be found here.
All posts for this vacation can be found with this tag: Europe2013