This Friday marks the 600 year anniversary since the death of King Wenceslas IV., who was simultaneously the king of Bohemia and of the Romans. His rule was marked by political miscalculation and excessive drinking. However, he was also an important patron of the arts. On the occasion of the anniversary, Prague Castle has opened an exhibition depicting some of the most accomplished gothic craftsmanship produced during his era.
The Czech Republic’s famous Karlštejn castle, built by the Bohemian King and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, as a treasury for the crown jewels and other precious royal artefacts, is marking an important anniversary this week. It is exactly 670 years ago, in 1348, when the foundation stone of the Gothic castle was ceremoniously laid.
Prague Castle, the Cathedral of St Vitus, Charles Bridge and the astronomical clock on Old Town Square are some of the architectural jewels that attract millions of visitors to Prague every year. What is special about the city is its historic authenticity documenting the city’s urban development of over a thousand years. The integral complex of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings, its romantic cobbled alleys and gas lamps give visitors the impression that they have travelled back in time.
A ceremony on Prague’s Charles Bridge early on Sunday morning marked the 660th anniversary since work on the famous stone bridge began. The bridge was commissioned by the Bohemian king and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV to replace the stone Judith Bridge which was destroyed by floods. According to legend, Charles himself laid the foundation stone at 5:31 in the morning on July 9, 1357. The date and time were said to have been chosen by court astrologers to form a palindromic sequence of ascending and descending numbers (1357-9-7-531). The bridge was completed in 1402. Charles IV never saw it finished; he died in 1378.
The government has decided to take a neutral stance on a proposal from a lower house lawmaker that days are set aside to commemorate the lives of Karel IV and his mother, Eliška Premyslovna. A proposal from Úsvit (Dawn) backbencher Augustin Sylor would means that special days, but not state holidays, would be earmarked for the two historical personalities. The day market Karel IV would probably be May 14, the anniversary of his birth. So far there are 12 such special days in the year. A similar move in the lower house failed to progress further last year.
Valuable papers and documents pertaining to the statesmanship and political and diplomatic work of the Bohemian king and Holy Roman emperor Charles IV are being installed at the National Archive in Prague on Wednesday. The items will be on show from Friday to Monday as part of the exhibition Archive of the Czech Crown – The Documentary Treasure of Charles IV. Most of the documents have never been publicly displayed before and virtually all of them passed through the ruler’s own hands, according to the archivists.
Celebrations marking the 700th anniversary of the birth of Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor will peak at the weekend with a faithful re-enactment of the coronation of Charles IV as Czech King and Blanche of Valois as Czech Queen. The program will include a torchlight procession to Vyšehrad, a spectacular tournament of knights on horseback as well as the coronation banquet itself. On Saturday the celebrations will take place at Prague’s Ovocny trh between 10 and 6pm, after which people can join the torchlight procession to Vyšehrad. The coronation reenactment ceremony will take place on Sunday at St. Vitus Cathedral, starting at 1pm.
The Czech crowns jewels have been put back in their vault at Prague Castle’s St. Vitus Cathedral. The valuable collection, including the Crown of St. Wenceslas, had been on display for two weeks at an exhibition marking the 700th anniversary of Bohemian king and Holy Roman emperor Charles IV. Once the crown jewels had been returned on Tuesday evening their vault was ceremonially locked by seven key holders, including President Miloš Zeman, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and the archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Dominik Duka. They will not be put on public display until after the inauguration of the next president in 2018.
An exhibition which opens to the public on Sunday at the Wallenstein Riding School presents over 200 artefacts documenting Charles IV’s legacy in a European context, including the crown that Charles IV had made for his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor in 1349. One of the most complex exhibitions on the life, legacy and times of Charles IV was organised by the National Gallery in Prague and the House of Bavarian History in collaboration with the Centre for the History and Culture of East Central Europe at the Lepizig University.
Charles IV, the 14th-century Holy Roman emperor and King of Bohemia, is without doubt one of the greatest figures of Czech history and with the upcoming anniversary of his birth, a great many events are taking place to mark his legacy. But recently, there have also been an increasing number of voices questioning the picture of Charles IV as the greatest Czech of all time, suggesting that there are also some darker aspects to his rule.