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Hradcany - Prague 1 Category: Prague Castle

Basilica of St George at the Prague Castle

GPS: 50°5'27.96"N, 14°24'9"E

The Romanesque three-aisle basilica of St George at the Prague Castle is the oldest preserved religious building in Prague. Its white towers are built from arenaceous marl ashlars and create a significant part of the castle skyline.

The church was founded around 920 by the father of St Wenceslas, prince Vratislav, as a second sanctuary of the Prague Castle. Several years later the south side of the building was extended by the side chapel and the remains of St Ludmila were brought here in 925. In 973 the first female Benedictine monastery was founded beside St George’s church. The essential parts of this monastery were preserved until today. The sister of prince Boleslav II, Ven. Mlada, became the mother superior of this monastery. Shortly after, construction works began, primarily to enlarge the building on the west side and to create a separated west choir and pulpit with Romanesque clustered windows. More adjustments were made over time. In the second half of the 14th century the basilica was given the new west facia, which was later renovated into the baroque style.

The monastery burned down in 1142 during the Prague Castle siege carried out by Konrád Znojemský. The monastery was then rebuilt including the construction of two new towers, which are also built from the same Romanesque ashlars as the main building. Unusually, the towers are situated on the side of the east closure of the lateral aisles. They are 41m in height and their ground plans are not identical in size. The north tower is only 5m in width compared to the south tower, which is 6.3m in width. The north tower deviates from the vertical by 40cm. The top floors of both towers feature Romanesque clustered windows, with three openings, on two levels. The corner lesenes are joined above the windows by a strip of curved moulding and a dentil. Both towers are crowned by steeple roof helmets with a cross on their very top.

Unfortunately the towers do not house any bells as they were confiscated during the World Wars. The only exception is the bell from 1550 made by Tomáš Jaroš. This bell was hung in the south tower until 1974, and then it was restored and placed in the metal founding exposition in the basement of the Powder Tower. Currently the bell is to be seen in the basilica interior.