Disappeared medieval church

Prague 1, Old Town

Betlémské náměstí

the extinct medieval church

Public transport -tram stop Národní třída/ metro station Národni třída (yellow line B), then walk along Na Perštýně street to Bethlehem Square. The remains are hidden under the pavement of the square.

In the Middle Ages, the Church of Saints Philip and James was situated in the Bethlehem Square in front of the Bethlehem Chapel façade. The archaeologist Ivan Borkovský uncovered the church foundations between 1948 and 1949. Very little information about this structure is found in written records. The church was first recorded in 1357 as a parish church. It also included the cemetery and parsonage on the south side of today’s square. In connection with the Bethlehem Chapel erection after 1391, the cemetery which originally surrounded the church was partly removed. The church disappeared under vague circumstances shortly after the outbreak of the Hussite Wars. The latest written record comes from 1419. After its demolition, the vacated space was used as a cemetery appertaining to Bethlehem Chapel.

The current knowledge about the Church of Saints Philip and James is primarily grounded in the archaeological research findings. As it emerges from the surviving documentation, its oldest part may be reconstructed as a simple Romanesque structure with an oblong nave enclosed by a semi-circle apse. The building was made of low marlstone ashlars. A platform supported by two columns and three bays of a groin vault was in the western section of the nave. The analysis of building construction and the archaeological situation facilitated the dating of the church as part of the 12th century. It was reconstructed during the Gothic era when a larger polygonal presbytery replaced the apse. Two side aisles were built into the nave. The south aisle was slightly bevelled and the north one continued on the façade with a belfry. Tens of graves in the church cemetery were found both in the interior and the exterior encircling the church. The remains of the cemetery and the church structure have survived beneath the surface of the present square.

Datum vložení: 21.1.2019 | Datum aktualizace: 3.7.2020
Autor: Jaroslav Podliska

Použité prameny:
  • Dragoun, Zd. 2002b: Praha v letech 885–1310. Kapitoly o románské a raně gotické architektuře. Praha.
  • Ekert, F. 1884: Posvátná místa král. hl. města Prahy 2. Praha.
  • Kubiček, A. 1953: Betlémská kaple. Praha.