Prague’s famous Jiřího z Poděbrad church consecrated 90 years ago
The unique structure is full of royal symbolism. The protruding stones of the facade of the building are reminiscent of a royal mantle of ermine. Meanwhile, the metal dome on the building’s tower is meant to resemble the apple a ruler traditionally held in their right hand.
The Vinohrady district in Prague developed rapidly at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1919, local district authorities recognized that the Church of Saint Ludmila of Námestí Míru no longer had sufficient capacity to accommodate the faithful. A public tender was therefore organized for a new large cathedral that would stand on the nearby square Jiřího z Poděbrad. The design by famous Slovenian architect Josip Plečnik ultimately won the competition.
The gray masonry church has a rectangular plan of 38m x 26m with a coffered ceiling 13m high. The copper domed tower of the building is 42m high and features a large round window whose original purpose was to let more sunlight into the church. Later, it was decided that the window would house the largest clock in the country, with a diameter of almost seven and a half meters.
Plečnik chose a very decorative facade for the building, with three quarters covered with glazed bricks and the upper part featuring a gallery and a low gable. There are also three large portals on the facade.
The church was consecrated on May 8, 1932 by the Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Karel Kašpar. The church’s dedication to the heart of Jesus was meant to express gratitude to God for the country’s recent gaining of independence, while also pleading with the lord to keep the country safe.
Six bells were consecrated inside the tower. These will be shot down by the Nazi occupiers during the Second World War, in order to be melted down into weapons. Only the smaller bell survived. In 1992, two more original bells, created by the famous Manoušek family, were added to the church.