St. Vitus Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral located in Prague in the Czech Republic. Its full name is St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert Cathedral. Also located within the Prague Castle, this cathedral is also the seat of the Archbishop of Prague. It is also considered as one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture.
The present day St. Vitus Cathedral was first founded on November 21, 1344. There have been other cathedrals previously build on the same site. The present cathedral was built when the Prague bishopric was elevated into an archbishopric. It was also built on with the help of Charles IV, King of Bohemia, who wanted the new cathedral to be a coronation church, a family crypt as well as a storehouse for his kingdom’s most valuable relics.
The master builder for the Gothic cathedral was Frenchman Matthias of Arras who designed the overall layout of the building. This explains the design to have certain French Gothic influences all around it. Matthias went on to build the cathedral until his death in 1352 after which the job was taken over by Peter Parler.
While Matthias was influenced by the mathematical technicalities in the design of the cathedral, Parler’s influence was more on the aesthetical aspect, thinking of the design in terms of being a big sculpture. The combination of both influences has given both intriguing mixes on the overall architecture of the cathedral.
Due to the extent of work, the cathedral stood half finished for most of the succeeding centuries. Various kings went on to finish the job which also further added other influences into the current Gothic structure. Along the years, further additions were made along with the restoration of older areas of the cathedral that have gone through certain deterioration through the years. It wasn’t until 1929 that the St. Vitus Cathedral was finally finished.
Primarily, the St. Vitus Cathedral is considered as mainly a Gothic style church. But due to the fact that its construction was handled by different builders and designers along the way, certain style elements were also added. Aside from Gothic, certain Renaissance and Baroque elements found its way into the design of some parts of the cathedral. Overall, the St. Vitus Cathedral took almost 600 years to finish.