Bethlehem Chapel

Prague, Czech Republic

The Bethlehem Chapel is a medieval religious building in the Old Town of Prague, notable for its connection with the origins of the Bohemian Reformation, especially with the Czech reformer Jan Hus.

It was founded in 1391 by Wenceslas Kriz and John of Milheim, and taught solely in the Czech vernacular, thus breaking with German domination of the Medieval Bohemian church. The building was never officially called a church, only a chapel, though it could contain 3,000 people; indeed, the chapel encroached upon the parish of Sts. Philip and James, and John of Milheim paid the pastor of that church 90 grossi as compensation. Hus became a rector and a preacher in March 1402. After Hus's excommunication in 1412, the Pope ordered the Bethlehem chapel to be pulled down, although this action was rejected by the Czech majority on the Old Town council. After Hus's death, he was succeeded by Jacob of Mies.

In the 17th century, the building was acquired by the Jesuits. It fell into disrepair and in 1786 it was demolished; in 1836–1837 an apartment building was built in its place. Under the Czechoslovakian communist regime the building was restored by the government to its state at the time of Hus. Most of the chapel's exterior walls and a small portion of the pulpit date back to the medieval chapel. The wall paintings are largely from Hus's time there, and the text below is taken from his work De sex erroribus, and contrast the poverty of Christ with the riches of the Catholic Church of Hus's time.



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Founded: 1391
Category: Religious sites in Czech Republic

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Portpad Traveller (5 months ago)
We tried to visit this site between Christmas and New Year, based on what appeared to be their updated opening dates and times, but after making three trips there on foot, it was closed on every occasion. Very disappointing and a big waste of holiday time when we were only in town for a limited number of days. Please update your opening times correctly.
john hayes (5 months ago)
If you are ever in Prague around the Xmas season then the nativity exhibition at the Bethlehem Chapel is well worth a visit. Children will find it especially delightful and magical. Nativity displays are a really important part of the Czech Xmas tradition. You will find many beautifully crafted scenes in craft and gift shops and many displays in churches. The Bethlehem Chapel is my favourite. It consists of a large number of scenes, hand-made by crafts people using a range of different materials and styles. They are playful, imaginative and some are really dazzling. For me a trip to this exhibition is an essential part of a Prague Xmas experience.
Joel Becktell (9 months ago)
We visited because we attended a concert there, so we didn't really get to look around. As a concert venue, it has a lot to recommend it. Good, clear acoustics and an interesting antique architecture. If you're considering attending a concert here, I'd say do it, but try for seats in the center section, or near the front of one of the side sections. Also, the schematic for buying tickets implies that there are obstructed view seats -- there are in fact 2 large pillars -- but we did not find that they impeded the view from any of the seats. The geometry of the schematic and the reality are not the same, so don't worry about that.
Bogdan Marcelan (10 months ago)
During our visit to Prague, my wife and I also visited the very interesting Bethlehem Chapel, which is interesting from the time of the Reformation and is associated with the reformer and great mind Jan Hus. Photos of the interior say a lot. But it is interesting that you can read about the history of the chapel in your own language.
David Dancey (13 months ago)
An important historical landmark in Prague Old Town This was the site of a large chapel from the High Middle Ages were the gospel was to be preached in Czech. Jan Hus preached from here and it was here that the burgeoning Hussite movement began to take root in the Czech lands. After the burning of Hus by the emperor and the Hussite Wars, the chapel continued to be used by the Hussites, until the Thirty Years War, when it was taken over by the Jesuits. It subsequently fell into disrepair and was allowed to be demolished, but it was reconstructed under the Communists, who saw Hus as an early champion of the proletariat. The hall has been well reconstructed and there are guides and interpretative materials to allow one to see the importance of this hall in the history of Prague and the wider world.
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