St. Wenceslas, the patron of Bohemia, was a Duke of Premyslid dynasty, murdered by his own brother Boleslav in the 10 th century. There are legends about miracles he made during his life and he became a symbol of Christianity because of his moral life and martyrish death. To show respect for him, Emperor Charles IV. had a splendid chapel built above his grave in the 14 th century and he decorated it with murals and semi precious stones. St. Wenceslas Chapel is the most valuable place in the St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle.
Building of the St. Wenceslas Chapel
There used to be the St. Vitus Rotunda originally and St. Wenceslas wished to be buried there. Charles IV. had his relics raised from the remains of the rotunda and he had projected the new Gothic chapel at the place, together with his favourite architect Petr Parler. The St. Wenceslas Chapel was built according to the New Jerusalem, described in the St. Johnīs Gospel. According to the gospel, the New Jerusalem should be built to save the world after its destruction.
Czech Crown Jewels
Charles IV. had a spectacular tombstone built for St. Wenceslas relics. The present tombstone was made according to the original one in the 20 th century. In the era of Charles IV., there were also the Czech Crown Jewels kept in the chapel. Nowadays, they are in the Crown Chamber, which can be entered only through the door in the St. Wenceslas Chapel. There are seven keys needed to open it, each one kept by a different person.
Valuable Gothic paintings
The walls of the chapel are decorated with valuable paintings depicting scenes from life of Jesus and scenes from the legend about St. Wenceslas. Above the altar, there is a scene of crucifixion of Jesus and also the most interesting scene from the St. Wenceslas legend: it represents the imperial assembly. St. Wenceslas arrived late there and thatīs why the members of the assembly decided not to offer him a chair. But St. Wenceslas arrived accompanied with two angels and with a golden crucifix shining above his head. When the emperor saw it, he offered him his own chair.
There is a statue of St. Wenceslas in the chapel, surprisingly accurate considering the time when it was made. The painting of murder of St. Wenceslas from 1543 can be seen there as well.