Photoessay: St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague

A fantastic piece of gothic architecture, St. Vitus is arguably the centerpiece of Prague Castle – itself at the northern part of the old Malastranska district and overlooking the rest of the city itself. I’ve been inside a number of famous cathedrals – St. Paul’s, Canterbury, Notre Dame, St. Vitus, the Sagrada Familia, and Stefansdom – and the one thing that always amazes me is that we humans could build such structures as early as nine hundred years ago, when the majority of people were living in shacks and huts without sanitation or any other modern infrastructure. Even more amazing is the degree of architectural finesse involved in building these structures in stone – remember, there were no structural members that could take tensile loads, let alone pre formed or pre stressed panels. Everything was reliant on gravity to stay in place. Construction took generations; even with modern building techniques, the Sagrada Familia began in 1882 and isn’t expected to be complete until 2026 – that’s <em>144 years</em>. Frankly, it doesn’t look very different today than when I first visited in 2003. Glass <em>had</em> to be made with lead frames holding together small pieces, simply because there was no way to make big sheets. But the craftsmen of the day found a way to make that beautiful, creating the incredible stained-glass mosaics that survive to this day; a lasting testament to their devotion to their faith. MT

Series shot with the Leica M9-P, 28/2.8 ASPH and 50/1.4 ASPH

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Comments

  1. parameteres says:

    i love (Europeans) churches and cathedrals… great angle you captured in last 2 images.

    • Thank you. I find it amazing and inspiring that they could build such magnificent structures so many centuries ago – considering there was no power, calculators, (calculus to do the calculations even!) and mostly no sanitation. I doubt very much that any of our modern buildings will still be in such great shape in 400-500 years’ time – the supposedly high end apartment building I live in is barely two years old and leaking everywhere…

  2. This is one of my favourite sets. Love the detail!

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