The Cathedral of Saint Lawrence (Katedrála svatého Vavřince in Czech), standing at the top of Petřín hill in the Lesser Town, is a church, which serve as the cathedral of the Old Catholic Church in the Czech Republic. With its altitude of 327 metres above sea level this was the highest place in Prague for a long time.
The cathedral is located on a site, where pagan Slavs made their ceremonies and lighted sacred fires and where princess Libuše, according to a legend, made a prophecy about future splendour and fame of Prague. It is said that Duke Boleslav II (by request of Prague bishop Saint Adalbert) had a small church built there, consecrated to Saint Lawrence.
The oldest written source about the chapel of Saint Lawrence dates back to 1135. In that time it was a single-nave romanesque building with an apse on the east end and a tower on the west. The walls of this Romanesque building are partially preserved in the present church. It was built probably during the reign of Duke Soběslav I and was similar in style to the church of the Holy Cross in the Old Town, which is now also used by the Old Catholic Church.
In 1590 the chapel was restored by George Henry of Frankenstein. In the 18th century the church was reubilt due to P. Norbert Saazer and the Guild of Prague cooks. The construction lasted from 1730s to the year 1780. The project was made by architect K. I. Dientzenhofer. A new monumental Baroque north face of the building was created, with statues of Holy Trinity, St John of Nepomuk and St Mary Magdalene. There is also the coat of arms of prior František Strachovský ze Strachovic, who oversaw the building work. In the niche there is a statue of St Adalbert.
As for the furnishings, the most notable item is a painting of the martyrdom of St Lawrence by Burgundian painter Jean Claud Monnot on the right side altar. Today’s interior is a work of Architect Jiří Pelcl, including a modern crucifix, hanging from the ceiling.
Chapel of Calvary, standing next to the church, was built in 1735. Its face is decorated by a sgraffito of the Resurrection. The Way of the Cross on Petřín with 14 stations also belong to the church.
Since 1994 the whole complex of buildings is used by the Old Catholic Church in the Czech Republic, and since 1995 the church of Saint Lawrence is the cathedral of the Old Catholic Church.
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