The Cathedral...

09.03.2008 | 21:02
The Cathedral...

In one famous Czech folk song the St. Vitus church is called “our Gothic pride”. We can certainly agree with this, and what’s more, the cathedral means something sacred to many of us, though we are non-believers. You might ask why they sing about a church, when it in reality is a cathedral? The reason is actually that it is difficult to sing the word “cathedral”, and also that the bishop´s cathedra is situated in the cathedral´s sacrarium. That´s how the denomination “cathedral” appeared.

You might not know that in the decree issued in 1997, the building was given the title “the Cathedral of St. Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert, and it is consecrated to these three patrons. Saint Vitus came from Sicily and he died as a martyr sometime around 303 AD. The cathedral is also consecrated to St. Wenceslas, for well-known reasons, and perhaps also because in 925 AD he founded the St. Vitus Rotunda at the location of today´s Prague Castle. St. Wenceslas was motivated to that because he obtained a precious saint relic (a bone of St. Vitus’ arm) from Emperor Henry I the Fowler. And finally, the cathedral is consecrated to Saint Adalbert due to the fact that he was not only the second Czech bishop but he also died while executing his profession, i.e. during his mission to Poland. His remains were buried at the Castle in the rotunda´s extension in 1039. The mentioned rotunda was destroyed on the order of Spytihněv II., who let build the Basilica of St. Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert on its place in 1060. And in 1344, right in this location, Charles IV jointly with his father John of Luxembourg founded the famous and magnificent cathedral.
 

The cathedral has from time immemorial been followed very cautiously by the public, and therefore everything that is undertaken here is perceived very sensitively. After years of strict rules and regulated attendance a more “liberal attitude” was introduced, which led to a certain “devaluation” of the cathedral. Nevertheless, in 2008 the control of the visitors to the cathedral will again be the responsibility of the Prague Castle Administration. Therefore I asked PhDr. Fratišek Kadlec, director of the Tourist Movement department of Prague Castle Administration, some questions, because he is one of the most competent persons in this respect.

“How will the cathedral be operated in the coming season?” The cathedral’s visitors are subjected to the same conditions as in the case of other sightseeing objects of the Castle. In the winter season (November-March) it is open from 9 am to 4 pm, in the summer season (April-October) from 9 am to 6 pm. The cathedral’s main tower is open only during the summer season. Entrance to the cathedral is free of charge. In the time of regular Sunday masses the church is open from 12 am.

“What kind of restrictions can visitors expect in connection with religious services, taking photos or entrance fees?” Masses are held regularly on Sunday mornings and on church holidays. Taking photographs in the church is allowed only after buying a license. However, the use of flash and stand is not allowed.

“What can the Prague Castle Guide Service offer?” The Prague Castle Guide Service offers interested visitors guided tours in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Czech. Guides can be reserved in the information centres daily except Saturdays, Sundays and holidays on the telephone number 224 373 368 or 224 372 415. Besides traditional guides visitors can take advantage of audio guides that are also available in information centres. The sightseeing of the cathedral is also a part of a new DVD - Prague Castle Step by Step - which can be obtained in all the shops of the Prague Castle.

“What events do you prepare for this year?” In connection with the exhibition of the crown jewels (April 2008) a newly edited book - Czech Crown Jewels - will be published. The exhibition programme of the Prague Castle Administration includes several extraordinary events for this year:
Biedermeier and Culture in the Czech lands (May – September),
Slovakian Modern Art (October – March 2009),
František Vláčil (February – May),
Clocks and Watches (October – January 2009),
A Prague Pedestrian: Jiří Všetečka (March – August),
Prague Castle and the Czechoslovak Presidents 1918 – 1948 (October – March 2009)
 


Prague Castle Administration

www.hrad.cz


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