Aktuality

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Religious Services

  MondayThursday           7:00

  Friday                   7:00 and 18:00

  Saturday                               7:00

  Sunday                 8:30 and 10:00

  More                                     Extra services

Opening hours

  MondaySaturday   9:00 – 16:40

  Sunday                     12:00 – 16:40

  More

Important institutions

St Vitus Treasure

 

St Vitus Treasure

 

The exhibition of the St Vitus treasure was opened on 16 December 2011 in the chapel of the True Cross located in the 2nd courtyard of the castle. This exposition is co-organized by the St Vitus Metropolitan Chapter and the Prague Castle Administration. Visitors are now able to view 139 exhibits – a selection from the entire treasure. This exhibition is planned for 10 years. Objects, primarily reliquaries, used during liturgical celebrations are not being exhibited here. A visit of this exhibition is remarkable from the art historical and goldsmith’s perspective, but it is primarily a spiritual experience as it offers a representation of the spiritual life of entire generations that lived in Prague and in our country.

 

Address of the Exhibition

Chapel of the True Cross at the Prague Castle – 2nd courtyard

 

Opening Hours

Summer (April to October) 10:00 – 18:00
Winter(November to March) 10:00 – 17:00

 

Admission to the St Vitus treasure:

   Regular  Discounted (*)  Family (*)
St Vitus treasure  300 CZK  150 CZK  600 CZK

 

 

* Discounted admission

  • Students, seniors, disabled with ID card
  • Family admission (1 to 5 children under 16 years and max 2 adults)

Admission for elementary schools

  • Elementary school students accompanied by teachers who submit a list of names confirmed by the school (admission for a group of 30 students max + 2 escorts) 150 CZK

Note:

  • Audio guide is included in the price of the ticket
  • It is possible to purchase a catalogue of the St Vitus Treasure exhibition on the exhibition grounds (490 CZK)
  • This exhibition is not included in the tour tickets of the Prague Castle due to limited capacity
  • The capacity of the exhibition hall is limited to 40 people

Map


History of the treasure

 From the time of St Wenceslas until Charles IV

The origin of the St Vitus treasure probably has direct connection to the building of the firs St Vitus church, which was built at the Prague Castle following the order of Duke St Wenceslas (922/5-935). A relic that provided the impulse to build the church was displayed here in a splendid casket primarily for admiration. It was the shoulder of St Vitus, which St Wenceslas received from the German King Henry. The skeletal remains of St Vitus’ hand were, as is mentioned in historical records, deposited in a gilded case encrusted with cameos in the shape of a hand. The relic of St Vitus was soon joined by the remains of St Wenceslas who was ceremoniously buried here in 939.  Also deposited here were the relics that remained here after his death: his sword, lance, helmet and armour. The oldest inventory of the treasure lists a rare relic of Ludmila – a weathercock, which the saint made herself. Some of the relics were brought to the Prague church from Rome in 971 by Mlada, the sister of Duke Boleslaus II. She got these as a present from Pope John XIII. The establishment of a bishopric in 973 certainly had a great influence on the inflow of gifts and church paraphernalia, but there are hardly any extant documents. The St Vitus treasure was remarkably enriched thanks to the abundant loot brought by Bretislaus from his campaign in Poland in 1039 which primarily included the remains of St Adalbert. When in the second half of the 7th century a beautiful basilica, founded by Spytihněv and Vratislaus, was built in the place of the meagre church, all the gems were transferred to the new basilica.

As is documented in old sources, the treasure was not only enlarged but also plundered, especially during the reign of Svatopluk (1107-1109). Bishop Herman had to hand over 70 talents of gold from the treasure to a duke sent by King Henry. But the damage caused at that time was soon rectified due to the generosity of pious donors. It was with great zeal that Bishop Menhart took care of the ornamentation of the church entrusted to him. He had the grave of St Adalbert (1129) restored and decorated with gold, silver and crystal. Many of the relics that Menhart, and others before him, donated to the St Vitus church, were damaged by fire during the siege of Prague in 1142.  The head of St Adalbert and a hair-woven robe of St Wenceslas were found when the burnt church was being restored. Since that time the skull of St Adalbert has been kept in a special reliquary. During the 8th century one of the most prominent donors of the St Vitus Church was the chapter dean Vitus (1235-1271), a remarkably devoted patron, who had it decorated at great expense and took care of everything that was needed for religious services. Also the members of the ruling family during this period donated magnificent pieces to this church (Constance of Hungary, the second wife of Ottokar I of Bohemia, Ottokar II of Bohemia and many others).

The accumulated church treasure was very much reduced due to sacrilegious robberies of Otto Braniborsky (1279-1280), infamous for his guardianship of the underage Wenceslas II. This plundering was later rectified by King Wenceslas II himself, who was being well advised by Bishop Tobiáš (1279-1296). There many other donors who contributed to the fame of the treasure and it is not possible to name them all here, until the coming of the most famous donor – prince Charles, later the King of Bohemia and the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.

      

The Time of Charles

Already in the year 1333, even before becoming the king, the young prince was responsible for extending the St Vitus treasure. Even his father, King of Bohemia John of Luxemburg, who was constantly in financial need and was taking from the treasure, established a compulsory tithe for the chapter for all the silver mines from the taxes they were returning to the royal treasury. Charles’ first wife, Blanche of Valois, contributed to the treasure with other magnificent gifts. In 1346, King Charles had a royal crown made that was placed on the skull of St Wenceslas and that was supposed to be used only for coronations. It is still being referred to as the St Wenceslas crown today. During the time of his reign, Charles IV accumulated so many precious objects and relics that it is not possible to name them all in this short passage. King Charles also established religious services that enabled for the common people to regularly view some of the relics from the treasure. By doing so, the king wanted to increase the education and religious feeling of the Czech people. The treasure does not contain only objects for religious services, but also royal deeds of donation, as well as other valuable texts. Unfortunately, very few pieces have been preserved from the dazzling pieces of art work. Majority of the cathedral gems from the time of Charles, perished during later unfavourable periods. We can now read about the wealth and beauty of the St Vitus treasure only in old inventories.

 

History until Today

The most precious gift from the later time was probably the tomb of St Wenceslas lavishly ornamented with gold. Unfortunately the gold perished during the time of the siege of the Karlštejn Castle because it was used as mercenary pay. During the times of war and unrest the treasure used to be moved always to a castle that was unconquerable at that time. Once it was the Karlštejn Castle, another time the Ojvín Castle, and another time the Zvíkov Castle. The treasure was abundantly enriched even during later times (for example by Zdeněk Lev of Rožmitál, Archbishop Bera of Dubé and others).

The worst time for the church and its treasure was during the Calvin period after 1619 during which the damage caused was great – many paintings, sculptures and crosses were perished. There were even thefts of liturgical objects. But even at this time there were more patrons who were depositing in the treasure. It was never on such a scale as in the past, however. During the Habsburg reign the funeral imperial crown jewels and other pieces from the crowing of the monarchs were deposited in the treasure. Today the treasure is kept in the St Vitus Cathedral in the new (Hilbert) treasury.