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Old town - Prague 1 Category: Church towers

Church of St. Havel

GPS: 50°5'8.16"N, 14°25'19.92"E

The Church of St. Havel was established as a parish church together with the so-called ‘Havel’s Town’. Havel’s Town was founded by king Wenceslas I. with the participation of coin master Eberhard, shortly after his coronation in 1230. The foundation of Havel’s Town in its substance led to the foundation of Prague’s Old Town when, in the later stages of the 13th century, buildings were merged into a single administration unit surrounded by city walls.

During the mid 14th century, the original Roman style church was reconstructed following a gothic style with a triple-aisle and two steeples on the west facia. Notable architects of the era were involved in the later development of this church. In the last third of 17th century the church was styled by Jan Domimik Orsi and Martin Lurago. Corrugated and graphically decorated facia in a baroque style was created between 1723 and 1738 probably through the design of Jan Santini Aichl and Pavel Ignác Bayer who envisioned an eastern dominating feature of a one-time market place.

The approach to the steeples leads through the door on the left side of the church entrance. Here in the east steeple you need to surmount wooden solid newel stairs of 26 degrees. The centric supporting post is made of a single piece of wood. The Havel bell awaits us right at the top. It is operated manually and it rings on Sunday morning before mass.

If someone wishes to climb the south steeple, they must get to the attic level and cross over onto the system of wooden stairs with banisters that leads to the second bell, a bell smaller than Havel, called Marie. This bell is operated automatically from the church vestry. Behind this bell, another bell saddle can be found. Unfortunately this one is missing its bell, silent witness to a world war scrap metal drive.

In both steeples, each of which is 51 m high, you can open windows and shutters to all points of the compass and enjoy the wonderful view of the Prague Castle, spires and roofs of Old Town churches and houses, Vitkov and among others as far as Cerny Most, Prosek and Dablice.