St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle – The Largest Church in the Czech Republic


St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle – The Largest Church in the Czech Republic

St. Vitus Cathedral is a prominent landmark located within the Prague Castle complex in the Czech Republic. 

It is the largest and most important temple in Prague and a vital part of the history of Prague Castle. 

The cathedral was founded in 1344 and took nearly 600 years to construct. 

This Gothic masterpiece is a place where Czech monarchs are buried, and its crown chamber contains all the crown jewels.

It houses treasures such as the 14th-century mosaic of the Last Judgement, the tombs of St. Wenceslas and Charles IV, and the silver tomb of St. John of Nepomuk. 

It is a significant religious landmark and a symbol of Czech identity. 

Read the article to learn more about St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle:

Quick Overview of St. Vitus Cathedral:

  • Official name: St. Vitus Cathedral
  • Location:  St. Vitus Cathedral is situated entirely within the Prague Castle complex.
  • Date of opening: 1344 (construction began)
  • Timings:
    Summer Season (April 1 to October 31): 9 am to 5 pm
    Winter Season (November 1 to March 31): 9 am – 4 pm
  • Architecture: The cathedral is a prominent example of Gothic architecture, with elements of Baroque and Renaissance styles
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: Since 1992
  • Number of visitors per year: Over 2 million
  • Function: The cathedral is a significant religious landmark

St Vitus Cathedral Prague Tickets

St. Vitus Cathedral Opening Timings

The basic admission ticket to Prague Castle also gives you direct access to St. Vitus Cathedral.

It costs 445 CZK (€18) for adults  (16+ years) and 99 CZK (€4) for children aged 6 to 15.

Infants under 5 years old can enter for free.

For a smooth self-guided tour, you can also add the Prague Castle audio guide by paying an extra 99 CZK (€4).

What’s Inside St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague?

The grand St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle is the Czech Republic’s most important church.

King Charles IV wanted a dazzling cathedral-like France’s, so he built it.

Construction went on for hundreds of years through wars and changes in kings. 

Finally, in 1929, the magnificent cathedral opened its doors. Today, it’s a popular place for worship and exploring Czech history. 

Here are some of the things to see inside St. Vitus Cathedral:

1. St. Wenceslas Chapel: A Sanctuary of Peace

This chapel is the cult center of St. Vitus Cathedral and is one of the cathedral’s most beautiful and ornate parts.

It is home to the tomb of St. Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czech Republic, and is decorated with stunning frescoes and mosaics.

Its walls and lower portions contain over 1300 semi-precious stones and paintings.

A night mass was held there whenever the Czech Republic was in danger or experiencing challenging conditions.

The chapel still has masses, but exclusively on St. Wenceslas Day (September 28th).

You can see the chapel from the doorways, as it is not open to the public. 

2. The Royal Mausoleum: Resting Place of Kings

The crypt is located beneath the Royal Mausoleum and is the final resting place of many Czech kings and queens. 

It is a fascinating and mysterious place to visit, with its dark and atmospheric ambiance.

The tomb of John of Nepomuk, a Czech martyr, is one of the impressive sepulchral monuments in the cathedral’s chancel.

Additionally, the Royal Mausoleum is a part of the cathedral that showcases the Czech Republic’s deep historical roots and regal heritage.

3. Crown Chamber: Treasures of the Nation

The Crown Chamber is home to the Bohemian Crown Jewels, including the crown of St. Wenceslas, the royal scepter, and the royal orb. 

It is one of the most carefully guarded places at Prague Castle and is only accessible to visitors on guided tours

This chamber contains seven locks, and only the country’s top officials have the keys to access it. 

Why such security? The Crown Jewels represent the rich history and cultural heritage of the Czech Republic and are one of its most valuable treasures.

4. Golden Gate: An Entrance Fit for Royalty

The Golden Gate is a prominent feature of St. Vitus Cathedral, located within the Prague Castle complex in the Czech Republic. 

It is the ceremonial and southern entrance to the cathedral and it is adorned with beautiful Gothic sculptures and carvings, representing the Last Judgment. 

Why ceremonial? During coronation ceremonies, the kings entered the cathedral through this portal.

This mosaic was completed in 1371 at the request of Charles IV, king of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor, who made Prague the center of power during his reign. 

Thirty-one shades of colored glass, plus gilded tesserae, can be found in the approximately one million glass pieces that compose this mosaic. 

5. Stained Glass Windows: A Kaleidoscope of Color

The cathedral’s stained glass windows, with their intricate designs and vibrant colors, are a sight to behold. 

Look at how these stained glass windows flood the interior with intense colors, throwing light into every nook and cranny of the space. 

You can also see the Alphonse Mucha window from 1930. 

This window, known as the Creation Rose Window, is a masterpiece that blends religious history and powerful human emotion. 

It features figures of Czech kings and other notable individuals dressed in handsome finery and praying at the feet of Jesus. 

6. Tombs: A Vault for the Death

The cathedral is home to the tombs of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors, including Charles IV, Wenceslas IV, and Rudolf II.

Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor: Charles IV, also known as King Charles I of Bohemia, was a key historical figure in Central Europe during the 14th century. 

His tomb is a prominent feature within the cathedral.

Saint John of Nepomuk: The tomb of Saint John of Nepomuk, a revered saint in the Czech Republic, is another significant burial within the cathedral.

Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor: Rudolf II, a Habsburg ruler who was known for his patronage of the arts and sciences, is also interred at St. Vitus Cathedral.

Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia: The remains of Wenceslaus I, who played a crucial role in the country’s early history, are also housed within the cathedral.

These tombs and burials, among others, contribute to the cathedral’s status as a place of great historical and cultural significance in the Czech Republic.

7. The Main Nave: Heavenly Heights

The main nave in St. Vitus Cathedral is a magnificent space that is the central part of the cathedral and is Prague’s largest and most important temple. 

It is a long, wide, and high central aisle that runs from the entrance to the altar. There is a ring of Gothic chapels around it, and it is lined with chapels. 

Peter Parler built the room with a ribbed vault between 1344 and 1364. 

In addition to its stained glass windows, intricate carvings, and ornate decorations, it is also the burial place of Czech monarchs and patron saints.

8. The Giant Bell: The Heartbeat of the Cathedral

The St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague is home to several impressive bells, including the renowned Zikmund bell. 

The Zikmund bell, also known as “Zikmund” or “Sigismund,” is a colossal bell with a weight of 16,500 kg and a diameter of 240 cm. 

It was cast in 1549 and is one of the largest and heaviest bells in the Czech Republic.

In addition to the Zikmund bell, there are a total of 7 bells in the cathedral, which have been in full working order for the last 9 years. 

The cathedral also recently added a new bell weighing exactly 9,801 kg and 258 cm in diameter as a tribute to the 9,801 bells that the Nazis stole during WWII. 

This new bell, conceived as a memorial, will be permanently placed on Rohan Island. 

St Vitus Cathedral History

St. Vitus Cathedral is a vital part of the history of Prague Castle, which has witnessed the rise and fall of empires and the struggles of nations.

After all that, it has stood as a testament to the rich and diverse history of the region.

Its history is almost as old as Prague Castle itself. Here is a brief history of St. Vitus Cathedral:

  • The first sanctuary on the present St. Vitus Cathedral site was built by Wenceslas I, Duke of Bohemia, in 926-30, and the third church was built at Prague Castle.
  • The church (rotunda) was destroyed by Prince Spytihnev after 1060 and replaced by a new Romanesque basilica.
  • The construction of the current cathedral began on 21 November 1344, when the seat of Prague was elevated to an archbishopric.

    King John of Bohemia laid the foundation stone.
  • The design of the new cathedral was entrusted to French architect Matthias of Arras, who found inspiration from the French cathedrals of Chartres and Amiens.
  • After his death in 1356, Peter Parler continued building the cathedral. Parler used his own creativity and tried to build a monument different from other cathedrals. 

    Some of his ideas were very advanced.
  • The cathedral was completed in the 20th century thanks to the efforts of several architects and artists, including Kamil Hilbert, Josef Gočár, and Pavel Janák.
  • – The cathedral is a significant religious landmark and a symbol of Czech identity.

    It is the country’s largest and most important church and contains the tombs of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors.
  • Today, St. Vitus Cathedral has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site recognized for its historical and cultural significance.

St. Vitus Cathedral Facts

  1. Oldest Temple in the Czech Republic: St. Vitus Cathedral is the oldest temple in the Czech Republic, with its history dating back to the 10th century.
  1. Gothic Architecture: The cathedral is an excellent example of Gothic architecture and Prague’s largest and most important church.
  1. Coronation Site: The cathedral has been the site of coronations for Czech kings and queens.
  1. Burial Place: It is the burial place of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors, including St. Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czech Republic. 
  1. Construction History: The construction of St. Vitus Cathedral began in 1344 and was completed in the 20th century.
  1. Architects: The French architect Mathias of Arras and later Peter Parler were responsible for the cathedral’s design and construction. They built it using their own creativity.
  1. Treasury: The cathedral houses a treasury with valuable artifacts, including the Bohemian Crown Jewels.

  2. UNESCO World Heritage Site: St. Vitus Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site recognized for its historical and cultural significance.

These facts highlight the historical, architectural, and cultural significance of St. Vitus Cathedral, making it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Prague.

St. Vitus Cathedral Architecture

St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague is a mix of Gothic and Neo-Gothic styles, with the entire western half of the cathedral being a Neo-Gothic addition. 

The cathedral features a range of wonders, including the beautifully decorated St. Wenceslas Chapel with the tomb of St. Wenceslas.

There is a crypt where many Czech kings are buried and the Crown Chamber, home to the crown jewels. 

It features two organ casings, and the upper façade was part of an Anton Gartner baroque organ that was constructed in 1765. 

St. Vitus Cathedral has witnessed numerous notable events over the ages, including royal coronations, weddings, and even religious ceremonies. 

It has withstood wars, political changes, and the test of time, standing tall as a symbol of the city’s enduring spirit and faith.

The cathedral is now regarded as an architectural marvel, attracting millions of visitors annually.

It is still the seat of the Archbishop of Prague, representing the spiritual center of the Czech Republic.

Plan Your Visit: St. Vitus Cathedral Opening Hours

St. Vitus Cathedral is a significant religious and historical landmark located within the Prague Castle complex. 

Here is the information regarding its opening hours, the best time to visit, and the duration needed to explore the place:

Summer Season (April 2 to October 31)
Monday to Saturday: 9 am to 5 pm
Sunday: 12 pm to 5 pm

Winter Season (November 1 to April 1)
Monday to Saturday: 9 am to 4 pm
Sunday: 12 pm to 4 pm
The last entrance is 30 minutes before closing time.

Best Time to Visit St. Vitus Cathedral

The best time to visit St. Vitus Cathedral is right when it opens at 9 am, especially during the summer, to avoid crowds.

Also, we recommend planning your visit on weekdays instead of weekends to enjoy the castle peacefully.

How Long Do You Need at St. Vitus Cathedral?

The duration needed to explore St. Vitus Cathedral can vary. 

Still, a typical visit may last around 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on the crowds and your level of interest in the cathedral’s history, architecture, and interior.

So, to make the most of your visit to St. Vitus Cathedral, it’s advisable to arrive early, ideally at 9 am when it opens, to avoid the crowds.

Plan for about 1 to 1.5 hours to explore the cathedral thoroughly.

How to Reach St. Vitus Cathedral Prague?

To reach St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, you can use the following transportation options:

1. Tram: Take tram No. 22 to Pohořelec and get off at Hradčany square. The cathedral is a short walk from there.

2. Bus: Take line 194 from the city center to the Pražský Hrad stop. It is a 6-minute walk from St. Vitus Cathedral.

3. Light Rail: The nearest light rail station to St. Vitus Cathedral is also Pražský Hrad, a 6-minute walk away.

Alternatively, you can walk to the cathedral from the city center. Depending on your starting point, the walk takes approximately 20-30 minutes. 

Remember that the cathedral is located within the Prague Castle complex, so you may need to pass through security checks and follow specific entrance procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions About St. Vitus Cathedral

What is St. Vitus Cathedral?

St. Vitus Cathedral, sometimes called simply St. Vitus, is a magnificent church located within Prague Castle in the Czech Republic. 

This stunning cathedral took almost 600 years to build, starting way back in the 14th century with King Charles IV.
Imagine workers passing down their skills for generations to complete this masterpiece.

When was St. Vitus Cathedral built?

The very first stone was laid in 1344; it took until 1929 for St. Vitus Cathedral to fully realize its magnificent glory. 

Its long and fascinating construction journey adds to its unique identity and historical significance.

Where is St. Vitus Cathedral located?

St. Vitus Cathedral isn’t just tucked away in any random corner of Prague! It sits proudly within Prague Castle, a historic fortress perched atop a hill in the city’s heart. 

Where can you buy St. Vitus Cathedral tickets?

Booking tickets online is the most convenient way to visit the cathedral, especially during peak season. 

You can choose different options, like Circuit A (includes St. Vitus Cathedral) or Circuit B (excludes the cathedral) and select your preferred date and time.

Can I visit St. Vitus Cathedral with Prague Castle tickets?

Your Prague Castle ticket will grant you access to explore the magnificent St. Vitus Cathedral and a few other breathtaking sights within the castle complex.

Who designed St. Vitus Cathedral?

Matthew of Arras and Peter Parler are often credited as the primary architects for establishing the cathedral’s Gothic foundation.

Several dedicated individuals contributed substantially throughout its lengthy construction, ensuring its stunning final form.

Are there any restrictions on clothing inside the cathedral?

Dress modestly: Avoid overly revealing clothing like tank tops, short shorts, or miniskirts. Opt for clothes that cover your shoulders and knees.

Can I take photos inside the cathedral?

You can take photos inside the cathedral for personal use if you respect the following guidelines.

Is St. Vitus Cathedral wheelchair accessible?

Yes, St. Vitus Cathedral is wheelchair accessible. It strives to offer an inclusive experience for all visitors.

Are there any guided tours available?

St. Vitus Cathedral offers diverse guided tours to cater to different interests and preferences. 

These tours comprehensively overview the cathedral’s architectural highlights, fascinating history, and religious significance. 

They’re perfect for first-time visitors who want to gain a solid understanding of this iconic landmark.

What are the best times to visit St. Vitus Cathedral?

Before 10 am or after 4 pm is your best bet for a peaceful experience with minimal crowds. 

Enjoy the cathedral’s grandeur without navigating through hordes of people.

Are there any nearby attractions to visit after St. Vitus Cathedral?

Within Prague Castle are Golden Lane, the Old Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, and Daliborka Tower.

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