- CESKÝ KRUMLOV Part 2 -

St Vitus Church and Surrounding Complex (1)

LINKS to other pages in the Ceský Krumlov site and to the Colin Day Travelling Days series:

1 : Town and Square
2 : St Vitus Church
3 : Minorite Monastery
4 : Castle Tower
5 : Castle and Grounds
6 : Journey from Ceský Krumlov
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The construction of the Church of St Vitus began in 1340 under the guidance of the German master-builder, Linhart of Aldenberk, but was not completed until after the Hussite wars. (The Hussite Wars, also called the Bohemian Wars, involved the military actions against and amongst the followers of Jan Hus in Bohemia in the period 1420 to 1434. The wars were arguably the first in which hand-held gunpowder weapons such as hand cannons made a decisive contribution.)

In 1439, the church was consecrated by Bishop Nicholas of Passau.There were no more significant alterations to the church structure except in the 19th century when the onion-shaped Baroque tower was replaced by an eight sided pseudo-gothic tower (1893-1894).

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The font (above), ornate pulpit (left) and sidechapel altar (below)

Vitus was a Christian saint from Sicily. He died as a martyr during the persecution of Christians by co-ruling Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian in 303. Vitus is counted as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers of the Roman Catholic Church. Saint Vitus' Day is celebrated on 15 June.

In the late Middle Ages, people in Germany and countries such as Latvia celebrated the feast of Vitus by dancing before his statue. This dancing became popular and the name "Saint Vitus Dance" was given to the neurological disorder chorea.

Vitus is considered the patron saint of actors, comedians, dancers, and epileptics. He is also said to protect against lightning strikes, animal attacks and oversleeping, and is the patron saint of Bohemia.

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The main organ (left) is a huge three-keyboard organ constructed by Heinrich Schiffner with a pneumatic action and 47 stops constructed early in the twentieth century.

CeskyChurch15a.jpgInfluences of Upper Austria and Passau organ workshops have always been mixed with local ones. The outstanding organ placed on the gallery above the entrance into the St Vitus church as a choir instrument (right and below) shows the evidence of such influences.

An unknown organist coming supposedly from Egedacher´s organ workshop in Passau finished it in 1716. It used to stand in St. Jost Church in Ceský Krumlov which is now closed these days.Thanks to the enlightened decision of the town councillors at the time of Emperor Joseph's reforms it was transferred to its present place. The housing surface is decorated in accordance with Baroque tradition with several shades of marble.

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We move to the street beside St Vitus Church (above) and along to the buildings at the rear......

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"The Krumlov prelatory building is one of the most significant and also among the most complicated constructions and oldest buildings in all of Krumlov. The building originated in the Gothic period, in the second half of the 14th century. Late Gothic and early Renaissance renovations were made in 1576 by Balthassar Maggi.

"A prelatory brewery was built in the left wing in 1596 and was in operation until 1865. Many of the numerous fires that took place in this building were caused by the brewery. When Baroque renovations were made after the fire of 1624, the first floor of the street side wing was built and connected to the main building.

"After another fire, restoration projects took place in 1652 and 1768. The alterations that were made to the prelatory include Rococo remodelling of the stairwell and the elaborate painted decorative work in the celebration hall, which was executed by Frantisek Jakub Prokys. Further renovations were made in 1865.

"From 1897-1902, when various repairs were made to the building, the gables were returned to their historic Renaissance appearance and the sgrafitto on the front facade was restored. During a renovation project in 1904, remnants of Gothic windows were found in the southern wing. In 1924 further alterations were made and the building received its present-day appearance during a remodelling project in the second half of the 20th century."

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"The former Jesuit college situated next to the prelatory building is a four-wing Renaissance building dating from 1586-1588 which was built on the plot of land where six Gothic structures once stood. The Jesuit building was built by the highly regarded Rosenberg builder, Baldassar Maggi of Arogna according to plans drawn out by P.Alexander, a rector from the Jesuit college in Prague.

"The building has four wings that surround a central, rectangular courtyard. The main facade, which faces Horni Street, is decorated with Renaissance sgrafitto. Murals of various Czech saints (St Ludmila, St Vojtech, St Prokop, St Vit, and St Alzbeta) are painted in a band that runs just below the eaves. This decorative work was restored in the 1980s and 1990s. The entranceway into the courtyard is marked by a semi-circular arched portal of roughly-hewn granite.

"The facade of the building inside the courtyard are also decorated with sgrafitto, painted murals in the course just below the eaves, emblems of the founder of the Jesuits college, Wilhelm von Rosenberg and his fourth wife, Polyxena Rosenberg von Pernstejn, and the symbol of the Jesuit order "IHS" dating from the year 1587."

The building is now an hotel.

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