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New town - Prague 2 Category: Church towers

Church of St. Wenceslas at Zderaza

GPS: 50°4'32.16"N, 14°24'57.96"E

 

Looking from the convenient view-point at the panorama of the south-west part of Prague’s New Town we can observe a Sanctus bell turret positioned slightly above the ‘Dancing House’. Experts in ancient Prague history know that this steeple belongs to an old Prague church of St. Wenceslas at Zderaza. This church is interesting not only because of its architecture but also because of its history. The single-aisle building at the corner of Resslova and Dittrichova Street dating from the mid. 14th century forms a Romanesque church, which was probably constructed between 1170 and 1181. The church was newly vaulted in 1586-1587 and renovated in a gothic style in 1909 and has only had its present day appearance since 1926.

Since 1278 the Romanesque church was mentioned as a parish church with a cemetery for the use of the local population. The church was maintained by the ‘Order of Crusaders with a Red Star’. During the Hussite wars the church remained untouched and became a parish sanctuary of the Hussites. Shortly after the battle of White Hill the church became the property of the Augustinian (Bare-footed) Order, who built an extensive monastery in the neighbourhood. The monastery and the church were discontinued on 12th March 1785. Since 1809 the monastery has been used as penitentiary and has been extended with additional wings. The church was only reconstructed in 1826 which then provided the prisoners with a place of worship.

The penitentiary was discontinued and its building demolished after a new penitentiary was constructed at Pankrác. The church was supposed to be demolished as well due to its poor condition but instead it was purchased by the Czechoslovak Church Congregation, who repaired the church in order to use it for their own purposes. The church was opened on 29th September 1929 and dedicated again to St Wenceslas – Patron of Bohemia.

The roof by the west facia is endowed with a steeple rising up from its ridge. It has a baroque shape and octahedral structure with big lantern. The steeple is topped with an octahedral bulbous cupola with two small finials.