St. George's Basilica, Prague

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Basilica of St George
Czech-03809 - St. George's Basilica (32204970373).jpg
Basilica of St George with its two towers in the background
Basilica of St George is located in Czech Republic
Basilica of St George
Basilica of St George
Location in Czech Republic
50°05′28″N 14°24′09″E / 50.0912°N 14.4026°E / 50.0912; 14.4026Coordinates: 50°05′28″N 14°24′09″E / 50.0912°N 14.4026°E / 50.0912; 14.4026
CountryCzech Republic
Previous denominationRoman Catholic
Founder(s)Vratislaus I of Bohemia
DedicationSaint George
Functional statusConcert Hall & Museum

St. George's Basilica (Czech: Bazilika Sv. Jiří) is the oldest surviving church building within Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic. The basilica was founded by Vratislaus I of Bohemia in 920. It is dedicated to Saint George. Primarily Romanesque in style, it is part of the collection of buildings that comprise the castle, the political capital of the nation, and the spiritual center of the Czech state.


Consecrated in 921, the basilica is one of the oldest churches in Prague built in the Romanesque style.[1] The construction of the church was begun by Vratislaus I. At the time of Vratislaus' death in 921, the church had been completed but not consecrated. Wenceslaus I completed the project, and upon her death he buried his grandmother, Ludmila of Bohemia there.[2]

The basilica was prominent at the beginning of the spread of Christianity in Bohemia. Its collegiate church was at the center of the territory until the foundation of the Archdiocese of Prague in 973. In 976, the first building of the Benedictine St. George's Abbey was erected on the north side of the basilica, and the basilica served as an abbey church. The original three-nave building was completed with a choir, a tribune for the nuns of the convent and a crypt.[2]

Founded in 973 by Mlada, the Convent of Saint George sits next to the basilica.[3] The abbess of this community had the right to crown the Bohemian queen consort.

In 1142, Conrad III entered Bohemia to reinstate his brother-in-law Vladislaus II as duke. Conrad laid siege to the Prague Castle. During the siege, the church and convent suffered heavy damage caused by a fire. The damage was repaired between 1145 and 1151 and two towers were added to the church on that occasion. The northern, smaller tower is nicknamed "Eve", while the southern, larger, tower is nicknamed "Adam".[4] The Baroque façade dates from the late 17th century.[5]

In the years 1364–1378 the abbess Elisabetta completed the renovation of the chapel of Santa Ludmilla in the Gothic style, while the chapel's altar was consecrated in 1371 by Archbishop Jan Očko of Vlašim. During the 15th century, the monastery was devastated during the Hussite Wars and rebuilt after the return of the Benedictines under Sigismund of Luxembourg. At the beginning of the 16th century, a new southern portal was built. During the fire of 1541, the basilica burned down again and was rebuilt again. Between 1608 and 1612, the Abbess Sophia of Helfenburg had a large choir for the nuns built in the western part of the central nave. In the late 17th century the Baroque façade was built, probably under the direction of Francesco Caratti  [cs].[6] Between 1717 and 1722, the chapel of St. John of Nepomuk was erected by František Maxmilián Kaňka.[7] A bas-relief on the south portal of the building represents Saint George and the Dragon.[8]

In the 1780s, the condition of the buildings had deteriorated when Joseph II disbanded the monastic orders,[9] and the monastery and basilica were repurposed and used by the army.

With the exception of some elements of the façade, and interior of the church, the basilica has maintained the Romanesque style from the restoration after the fire in Prague Castle in 1142.[4] A bas-relief on the outside of the building represents Saint George and the dragon.[10]


Unlike the baroque and rococo churches of Prague, the interior of the basilica is simple and austere limestone block.[10] The church is a three-aisled basilica with two towers located on the eastern end of the church, at the end of the two side aisles. It begins with a square presbytery, and ends in an apse. There is a three-nave crypt under the chancel.[4]

The mausoleum holds the tombs of the members of Přemyslid dynasty and the relics of many saints.[11]


Current usage[edit]

The basilica is part of the Prague castle complex of buildings. The castle was the political capital of the nation and the basilica was part of its spiritual center.[12]

In 1962, the building was declared a national cultural monument and converted into a concert hall. Between 1969 and 1975, it was converted into an exhibition space. The building now houses the 19th century Bohemian Art Collection of National Gallery Prague.[13] It also serves as a concert hall.[14]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Havel, Woody (3 April 2017). "La basilique Saint George". (in French). Archived from the original on 20 November 2015. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b Merhautová-Livorová, p. 8.
  3. ^ "St. George's Basilica and convent". Archived from the original on 3 November 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  4. ^ a b c BorkovskÝ, Ivan (1962). Bazilika a klášter sv. Jiří na Pražském hradě [Basilica and Monastery of St. George at Prague Castle]. Prague: Academia.
  5. ^ Prague. Casa Editrice Bonechi. ISBN 9788847625761.
  6. ^ Prague. Casa Editrice Bonechi. ISBN 9788847625761. Archived from the original on 28 May 2021. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  7. ^ Merhautová-Livorová, p. 40.
  8. ^ "St George's Basilica". Avantgarde Prague. Archived from the original on 19 May 2021. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  9. ^ "Early reign of Joseph II, 1780–85". Britannica. Archived from the original on 19 May 2021. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  10. ^ a b "La basilique Saint-Georges – Avantgarde Prague". Avantgarde Prague (in French). Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  11. ^ "Basilique Saint-Georges". (in French). Archived from the original on 18 May 2021. Retrieved 11 December 2015..
  12. ^ "The Tombs of Saints at Prague Castle". Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
  13. ^ "St. George's Convent: Collection of 19th-century Art in Bohemia". Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2011.
  14. ^ "Prague Castle, St. George's Basilica". Archived from the original on 19 May 2021. Retrieved 23 January 2021.


External links[edit]