St. Vitus Cathedral (Katedrala Sv. Vita). The cathedral’s foundation stone was laid in 1344 by Emperor Charles IV and took nearly six centuries to complete. There are many superb examples of 20th-century Czech stained glass and marvellous pieces of art, for example, a wooden relief by Caspar Bechterle that shows the escape of Frederik of the Palatinate from Prague in 1621, and a wooden crucifixion by František Bílek. The Royal Crypt contains the remains of Charles IV, Wenceslas IV, George of Poděbrady and Rudolf II. The Chapel of St. Wenceslas is one of the oldest parts of the building and the most beautifully decorated. Do not miss the excellent views from the Great Tower.
Locations: Prague Castle Complex; Admission: free; admission charge to crypt and chance; Open daily 9 am-5 pm
Just in front of the main altar stands the Royal Mausoleum, beneath which there is the Royal Crypt.
Chapel of St Wenceslas
The centrepiece of the entire cathedral is the wonderfully embellished Chapel of St Wenceslas, housing the Tomb of St Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czech lands.
In addition to religious services, the coronations of Czech kings and queens took place here. The Czech crown jewels are also kept here; they consist of the Crown of St Wenceslas (1346), the Royal Sceptre and the Imperial Orb (16th century), all made of pure gold and richly decorated with precious stones and pearls.
Crown of St Wenceslas
The Crown of St Wenceslas is made of 21 and 22 karat gold, weighs almost 2.5kg and is decorated with 96 unpolished precious stones. The ruby from the Czech crown is the largest on Earth. Of the nine largest sapphires on the planet, six are on the Crown of St Wenceslas. At the top of the crown, there is a sapphire cross, in which is set a thorn said to come from Christ’s crown of thorns.
Czech King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV had the crown made for his coronation. According to legend, he who places the crown on his head without rightful claim to the Czech throne will die within a year.