Thursday, August 10, 2006

St Vitus Cathedral

Dominating the Prague horizon, St Vitus crowns the Prague castle above Malostrana. The original plans of St Vitus were dran by Matthias of Arrau under the commission of Charles IV, the holy Roman Emperor. Charles inherited from his father's cultural and political interests, his love of all things French. The cathedral was originally envisioned as a basilica in casthedral form begun by Matthias of Arrau around 1348. Matthias envisioned a circlet of nine chapels around the rump of the cathedral which are heavily supported externally by graceful flying buttresses. However, Matthias died suddenly in 1352, leaving a partially completed eighth chapel. Charles IV, summoned Peter Parler to continue the work. Matthiaas of Arrau is entombed in the Chapel of St Anne's Chapel which was completed by Peter Parler.

Peter Parler arrived in Prague in 1356 to overtake the supervision of the cathedral's construction according to the plans of Matthias. He also employed his father, Master Heinrich, in the construction of the prebstery and the Church of the Holy Cross. Parler completed the Chapel of the Holy Cross in 1356. His artistic skill is recognizeable in the delicate tracery of the enormous windows that surround the main altar. he completed the large windows of St Andrew's Chapel and the Chapel of St Wenceslas in 1366 where the relics were interred. The Chapel of the Holy Cross
was meant to be a twin of the Chapel at the royal treasury at Karlstejn. The vaulting rises to 30meters which soars above the main altar. People aer dwarfed by the immense porportions of the cathedral. Parler understood the dangers of construction and the risks of roofs collapsing. He practiced the construction of the vaulting on the Old Town Bridge Tower. Despite the massive stonework involved, the cathedral structure is light and airy, delicate in its tracery and flowing columns that burst into flower as they reach toward the heavenly vaulting. The vault was completed in the 1370s and the royal treasury established established on the upper floor of gallery. In 1370-1371, the great portal to the south, known as the Golden Gate, was finsihed facing the palace. The gilded mosaic above the gate was created under Parler's workshop after Byzantium influence and depicts the Last Judgement.

In 1385, Parler completed the choir. He used his understanding of architectural design to hide the skeleton of the main buttresses by using the small supporting piers between the windows for the supports of the choir, creating a contrast of internal unity and simplicity with the complexity of the external flying buttresses and their ornamentation. With this completed, he began the preparation of the double nave; but for pragmatic reasons, he built a provisional wall on the west side of the Golden Gate so that the completed portion could be used for religious services. his provisional wall almost became permament, lasting for more than five centuries as wars waged and the lack of technical expertise and financial support left the cathedral abandoned with only the chancel completed.

The cathedral was not completed until after the First World War in 1925 and concecrated on 12 May 1929. As you look down through the double aisle, the neo-gothic blends harmoniously with the original plans of the great gothic master builders, Matthias of Arrau and Peter Parler.

Notre Dame of Reims

possibly the model for St Vitus
has chevet

the asp that is designed using radiating chapels – distinguishing French Gothic architecture

cathedral architecture
origins and basic designs of cathedral architecture

St Vitus Cathedral

St Vitus Cathedral
Aug 12, 2006 - 15 Photos


Blogger Pamela said...

The Cathedral construction started in the 14th century and the window is typical of the many similar ones all across Europe from the Middle ages. The whole castle complex is a major tourist attraction and it is good to get there early especially to view the interior of the Cathedral. It becomes more a house one must visit than a religious house. Different tour guides from Prague hotels excursions to school excursions are everywhere and there is little evidence of peace and calm inside the Cathedral. By early I suggest start at 9.00am when the complex is opened to the public.

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