This and That

Random bits of my life

St. Wenceslas Chapel, St. Vitus Cathedral

Posted by Avital Pinnick on November 21, 2013

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The St. Wenceslas Chapel, where the kings of Bohemia prayed before the coronation, was difficult to photograph. First, you can’t go inside (the fact that the walls are covered with 1,300 semi-precious stones might have something to do with it), so you can only photograph from the doorways. Second, the chapel is very dark and tripods are not allowed. Third, the chapel is small but richly decorated, so a wide angle lens is very useful. Did I mention the crowds? You can’t stand in one spot for very long. If I’d had more time I would have tried using a telephoto lens to get better shots of the walls, although I’m not sure I could have held the camera steady for such a long exposure.

The upper walls are decorated with paintings of scenes from the life of St. Wenceslas, who was murdered by his younger brother’s men in 935. This is the same Good King Wenceslas commemorated in the St Stephen’s Day carol, but he was actually a duke and wasn’t all that good. I know–you thought “Good King Wenceslas” was a Christmas carol, right? Listen to the words again.

Beautiful gilded vaulting in the ceiling: The paintings are part of the original 14th century decoration. These photos were taken from the western door. Wenceslas’s tomb is on the right.

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Geometric marble floor:

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This photo was taken from the northern doorway. The door in the opposite corner of the room leads to the Bohemian crown jewels, but it was not open to the public. The Crown Chamber is the most guarded part of the cathedral, with seven locks that can only be opened if all seven key holders are present. Check out the magnificent strapping and imperial eagle on the western door. If you want to see a photo at a higher resolution, click it to go to the Flickr page.

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