Monday, May 21, 2018

Elegant Elbe: Prague 2d (5/21/2018)

Monday, May 21, 2018 (continued)
Continuing the tour of Prague Castle.
Gothic building in the castle
Gothic building (12/23/1981)
St George's Basilica/Bazilika Sv. Jiří (915-921) is the
best preserved Romanesque church in Prague,
with a 17C Baroque façade
St George was enlarged when a convent was established in 973. St Ludmilla is buried here; she was the widow of 9C ruler Prince Bořivoj, and was Bohemia's first female Christian martyr when she was strangled as she knelt in prayer.
St George's Basilica (12/23/1981)
A Baroque grille encloses the tomb of Boleslav II,
son and successor of Boleslav I, who was involved
in the assassination of his own
older brother, Wenceslas/Václav I
Tomb of Vratislav I, who founded St George's Basilica,
and was the father of Wenceslas/Václav I and Boleslav I,
and also the son of St Ludmila
Christ from the Tree Trunk (1947-1948, by
Otto Herbert Hajek)
St George's Basilica chancel
Side chapel altar holds the bones of
a devout girl who died at age 15
Mihulka Powder Tower/Prašná Věž
(rebuilt 1541 as home/workshop of
gunsmith and bell founder Tomáš Jaroš)
Tomáš Jaroš made Prague's largest bell in 1549 (the 18-ton Sigismund for St Vitus Cathedral belltower). From 1576-1612 during Rudolph II's reign, Powder Tower was the lab for alchemists and where Edward Kelley convinced the emperor they could turn lead into gold. In 1649 during the Swedish occupation, the gunpowder stored here exploded causing damage, but it was still used for gunpowder storage until 1754. The tower was turned into flats for sacristans of St Vitus, but now houses the permanent exhibit of Czech military history. (However, it was closed for renovation.)
We noticed the line for admission to St Vitus Cathedral was not too long, and joined it.
Gargoyles of St Vitus Cathedral
The southern façade of St Vitus Cathedral/
/Katedrála or Chrám Sv. Vita, Václava a Vojtécha
(Cathedral of Sts Vita, Wenceslas and Adalbert)
(begun 1344, consecrated 1929)
Built on the site of a Romanesque rotunda founded by Wenceslas/Václav I, St Vitus Cathedral was initially designed by the French architect Matthias of Arras, then by Swabian Peter Parléř and his mason's lodge that continued work until the Hussite Wars.
The south portal or Golden Gate/Zlatá brána, with the 14C mosaic of
the Last Judgment commissioned by Charles IV in 1370
The south portal door was said to have a bronze ring supposedly held by Wenceslas as he was murdered by order of his brother Boleslav in 935. The ring was from the door of the church of Sts Kosmas and Damian in Stará Boleslav, 25 km/15.5 miles from Prague, where Wenceslas was assassinated.
The west portal rose window, supported by four men wearing suits,
the architects of the cathedral, including Josef Kranner,
Josef Mocker, and Kamil Hilbert
St Vitus Cathedral nave with the
signature net vaulting of architect Peter Parléř
The third chapel in the left aisle holds the
Art Nouveau painted glass window (1931,
by Alfons Mucha) depicting the legend of the
brother saints, Cyril and Methodius
Sts Cyril and Methodius arrived to find the locals had no written language. Cyril developed an alphabet (Glagolitic, later developed into Cyrillic) while his brother meditated. The brothers took the translated Bible to the Pope in Rome, but Cyril fell ill and died. Methodius returned to Prague as bishop, but was arrested for heresy for violating the pure Latin Bible. After he was set free, he retired to a monastery and died. The painted glass also shows a young Wenceslas with his sainted grandmother Ludmila.
Art Nouveau wooden altar and relief of
Christ on the Cross by František Bílek
Reconstructed 1929 organ in the Wolmut choir loft
Gilded pulpit (1618), and chancel (1372, by Peter Parléř)
Royal Mausoleum with the tombs of
Ferdinand I (died 1564), his wife,and his son Maximilian II
Chapel of St Sigismund (1720, by František Kanka);
in 1366, Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor,
moved Sigismund's relics to Prague (KSS)
Carved wooden panel (1630) of Flight of Frederick of the Palatine
depicting aftermath of Battle of White Mountain in 1620,
 showing 17C Prague in detail, including the wooden barrier
weir system in the river that still stands today
Tomb of St Vitus; in 925 Wenceslas I acquired a piece
of the arm bone of St Vitus and built a rotunda to house
the relic and for pilgrimages
Reliquary Chapel
Tomb of St John of Nepomuk
Tomb of St John of Nepomuk (1736, designed by
Josef Emanuel Fischer von Erlach, in solid silver)
St John of Nepomuk was the focus of the counter-reformation after the Battle of White Mountain in 1620 when the Protestants were banished from Prague. He was the confessor to the queen of Bohemia, wife of Wenceslas/Václav IV, who suspected her of having an affair. Because John of Nepomuk would not divulge information from her confessions, Wenceslas/Václav IV had him tortured and thrown into the Vltava River. St John was immediately seen as a martyr defending the Seal of the Confessional, and became regarded as a Czech martyr to imperial interference. He is the protector from floods and drownings, and his statue is often placed on bridges.
Chapel of St John of Nepomuk with a reliquary
of the remains of St Adalbert/Vojtěch
Monument to Field Marshal Count Leopold Šlik (1723,
by Josef Emanuel Fischer from Erlach and executed by
František Maximilian Kaňka); the bust of the Count
is the work of Matyáš Bernard Braun and the other
sculptures come from his workshop (KSS)
The Royal Oratory (1493, by Benedikt Ried in
late Gothic style) is carved with naturalistic
tree branches, which was thought to have
been an influence on Antoni Gaudí
Chapel of St Wenceslas/Svatovaclavska kaple,
where the tomb (topped by an ark)
is in the same location as when in the original
rotunda to St Vitus that was built on his order 
The jewel-encrusted tomb has more than 1,300 precious stones, and the golden steeple in the corner held Communion wafers and wine.
Chapel of St Wenceslas
The Chapel of St Wenceslas was commissioned by Charles IV and there is a portrait of Charles and his wife on either side of the Christ on the Cross. The statue of Wenceslas, holding a lance and double-eagle shield, is flanked by angels and the four patron saints of Czech people (St Adalbert, St Ludmila, St Vitus, and St Agnes?). Gothic frescoes depict scenes from the Bible and the life of the saint (left of altar), interspersed with polished gemstones and gilding.

The Chapel houses but rarely shows the Bohemian crown jewels that are locked behind a door in a corner that has seven locks and seven keys held by seven VIPs. A door under the windows leads to a stairway to the Coronation Chamber, also with the seven locks and seven keys.
Flameless votive candles (KSS)
Next: Prague 2e.

No comments: