St. Vitus' Church in Český Krumlov is together with the castle an architectural landmark of the town. The church was built on the site of an older building around 1400. The consecration was carried out in 1439. Around 1500, the burghers built a large music gallery in the western part of the church, and further important remodelling followed in the Baroque period. Apart from other things, a new sacristy was built on the southern side of the church, and the Chapel of St. John of Nepomuk was constructed at the expense of prince Franz von Schwarzenberg and his wife Eleonore Amalie in 1725 - 1726. Neighbouring it, the originally medieval Resurrection Chapel was remodelled in the 18th century. The church got new altars and other furnishings in the Baroque period too.
The architectural and artistic development of the church was finished by Neo-Gothic remodelling at the end of the 19th century. Since that time, only repairs and restoration work have been executed in the church. A more important change was made in the interior of the northern sacristy, where St. Wenceslas’ Church was established in 1997.
The inner space of the church has the form of a three-nave hall, which is typical of high and late Gothic periods. Almost the entire space of the church can be observed from one place; the height, width and length of the church are harmonically composed thus making up a unified and equally illuminated whole. The presbytery is closed up with the tracery vault constructed according to the example of the church in Milevsko. The tracery vault bears the coat-of-arms of Linhart of Aldeberg, who is believed to be the originator of the project. The vault in the side naves is a simple cross vault with masoned ribs.
The early Baroque high altar comes from 1683 and was made at the expense of Prince Johann Christian von Eggenberg and of his spouse Marie Ernestine née von Schwarzenberg. Their joint coat-of-arms is found in the middle of the altar. The high altar painting depicts the Coronation of the Virgin Mary, and the upper one above it the Coronation of St. Vitus. The altar is completed by statues of saints.
The side altars of St. Francis Xavier and the Virgin Mary in the main nave were built in the years 1897-1898 in the Neo-Gothic style. The Rococo pulpit is decorated with a relief of the Annunciation and a statue of Christ.
There are two wall paintings in the left nave. The right hand side painting from the mid-15th century depicts St. Agnes of Rome, St. Elisabeth, St. Barbara and St. Catherine. The painting on the right, which is a little older, depicts the Crucifixion with St. John, Virgin Mary, St. Ursula, another saint and two kneeling donors.
Adjacent to the left nave, the Chapel of St. John of Nepomuk was built in 1726, in which hearts of several members of the Schwarzenberg family are kept. The altar in the chapel with the painting of St. John of Nepomuk comes from 1725.
There are tombstones from the tombs of Wilhelm of Rosenberg and his third wife Anna Maria von Baden put onto the wall on the sides of the entrance to the chapel. Originally, both of them were a part of a monumental tomb established in the presbytery of the church in the late 16th century. Next to the Chapel of St. John of Nepomuk is the entrance to the Resurrection Chapel, which was built in the Middle Ages and later remodelled in the Baroque style. Its walls were decorated with wall paintings by František Jakub Prokyš in 1777.
The small Baroque organ above the main entrance to the church comes from 1716, and the main organ was made in 1908 in the romantic Neo-Gothic style by the Prague organ maker Heinrich Schiffner.References:
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.
The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.
Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.
In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.
The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.
In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.
After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.
In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.
Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.
In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.
In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.