St Wenceslas Chapel

St Wenceslas Chapel in St Vitus’ Cathedral is a must see. St. Wenceslas, the Good King Wenceslas of the children’s song, is buried in the Rotunda of St Vitus, the foundations of which stand where the Chapel stands today. St Wenceslas Chapel was built by Peter Parler in 1344 and the jewelled decorations date from 1372. The statue of St Wenceslas was made in 1373 by Jindřich Parler, Peter Parler’s nephew. One of the most fascinating things in the chapel is the door leading to the Crown Chamber, which contains the Crown Jewels. Note the seven locks on the door. The seven keys are held by the seven of the most high-ranking officials in the Czech Republic – The President and the highest political and church authorities. The only way to get the Crown Jewels out of the Crown Chamber is to gather all seven keyholders together.

If your fancy runs to the macabre, take note of the bronze ring, decorated with a lion, on the chapel’s north entrance. The story is that St Wenceslas was grasping this ring, preparing to enter the church, , his brother Boleslav murdered him in 935. Boleslav succeeded Wenceslas and gave himself the title Prince, rather than Duke, which was the title used by Wenceslas, in order to break away from the Holy Roman Empire and return Bohemia to its pagan roots. In this he demonstrably failed. St. Wenceslas’ sword and helmet survive and are part of the Cathedral’s treasure.

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