The Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul is one of the dominating features of the city of Brno. The origins of the church on Petrov dates back to the 1170s. In the Gothic period the church was rebuilt several times. In one of the reconstructions, around 1500, the original consecration to St. Peter was added to by the consecration to St. Paul. In 1296 a collegiate chapter was established at the church. During the Thirty Years’ War the church burnt down and was newly built in two Baroque periods, 1651-52 and 1743-46. When Pope Pius VI confirmed the establishing of the Brno diocese in 1777, the Church of St. Peter and Paul was promoted to a cathedral.
The cathedral had 21 altars at the end of the 15th century. The cathedral was damaged in the year 1643 during the Swedish siege, and was burned down. Between 1743 and 1748 the aisle was re-designed into the shape which it has today, according to the design of Mořic Grimm. The chancel was re-gothicized at the end of the 19th century. The overall reconstruction was finished by Viennese architect August Kirstein in the year 1909, when the cathedral received two towers, and other civil adjustments were implemented. Among the decorations inside the church, you cannot overlook the statue of Madonna and child which dates from around the 1300’s, a late Gothic pieta, Baroque altars and a rostrum.
Apart from the cathedral interior visitors may see the Romanesque-Gothic crypt with foundations of the original church. In the treasury room there is an exhibition of vestments, monstrances and other liturgical articles. Visitors also like to climb the cathedral steeples to have a view of the city. The diocese museum houses an interesting exhibition of Vita Christi (Christ’s life).References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).