Prague 1, Town of Hradčany

3rd courtyard of Prague Castle

The area of ​​"small excavations" can be seen through a lattice from the 3rd courtyard, the cathedral and its underground can be accessed within paid visitor tours.

Perhaps as early as the 920s, Prince Wenceslas founded a rotunda consecrated to Saint Vitus in the very centre of Prague Castle, on the site that dominated the eastern part of the Hradčany promontory. After his body was transferred from Stará Boleslav, Prince Wenceslas was buried in the southern apse of the rotunda. Following the foundation of the diocese in 973, Boleslav II ordered that an episcopal palace be built adjacent to the western side of this church. The first building stage of the palace may have been wooden. The two structures, rotunda and palace, were further reconstructed during the next periods. The episcopal palace represents the earliest known residential stone building at Prague Castle. A single-nave St Maurice Chapel belonged to the palace which changed its dispositions several times during the Early Middle Ages. The southern apse of the rotunda was reconstructed, perhaps as early as the first half of the 11th century, and the rotunda was equipped with another, northern apse. The existence of the previously considered western apse is not generally accepted today. After Břetislav I raided Gniezno, the remains of Saint Adalbert were placed in the rotunda or in a separate adjacent structure.

The fragments of the above-mentioned prime religious structures of early medieval Bohemia were uncovered and gradually localised in connection with the completion of the cathedral at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries and then during the Prague Castle reconstruction for the first Czechoslovak president T.G. Masaryk. At that time, they were conserved and selected relics were made accessible to the public. From 1928–1935, the royal tomb was also adjusted. Along with it, the eastern crypt of St Vitus Basilica with precious architectural details is accessible to the public as part of the visitor’s tour; furthermore, the fragment of the northern aisle apse built above the northern apse of the earlier rotunda is visible. The masonry of the south-western part of the basilica as well as the fragments of the episcopal St Maurice Chapel may be viewed through the lattice encircling the area of small excavations which was built in the 1920s. The graves uncovered in the transept interior, the entrance to the crypt, and the western crypt remain hidden to visitors’ eyes.

Datum vložení: 21.1.2019 | Datum aktualizace: 31.8.2020
Autor: Ivana Boháčová

Použité prameny:
  • Dragoun, Zd. 2002b: Praha v letech 885–1310. Kapitoly o románské a raně gotické architektuře. Praha.
  • Chotěbor, P. 1999: Die Baugeschichte des Veitsdoms im Mittelalter. In: P. Chotěbor ed., Internationale Tagung der Dombaumeister, Münsterbaumeister und Hüttenmeister, Praha, 14–16.
  • Maříková-Kubková, J. – Herichová, I. 2009: Archeologický atlas Pražského hradu 1. Katedrála sv. Víta – Vikářská ulice. Castrum Pragense 10. Praha.
  • Mencl, V. 1948: Praha předrománská a románská. In: V. Chaloupecký – J. Květ – V. Mencl, Praha románská. Praha, stavební a umělecký vývoj města, Praha, 43–125.