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CATHEDRAL OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW IN PILSEN

Church of St. Bartholomew was founded along with the city in the late 13th century, the first written mention of it dates from 1307. King Henry of Carinthia granted a parish in Pilsen to the Order of Teutonic Knights, who didn’t take possession of it, due to a difficult situation, until 1322.

In 1322 when the Order of German Knights definitively gained a parish, the perimeter walls of the imposing three-part nave were built, including the run-outs of an intended cross-vaulted ceiling which, in fact, was never constructed. The Order parish was established by its predecessor of the same initiation. It is not known where the original church stood, whether in the square or somewhere else. Date of the definitive receipt of the parish by the Order seems to coincide with the start of construction of the actual church building, the oldest part of it being the presbytery. In the 1330s, both towers of the western facade were built up to the same height and between them the valuable portal. Thus arose the notable post-Classical Gothic hall, a high room with three naves of the same height. On account of the monumental naves the presbytery under construction was demolished and a new, elevated one built, this in the reign of Charles IV. In the second half of the 14th century, after the Hussite wars, a three-part nave was built by a network of vaults, probably by Erhard of Eichstätt. The tall, narrow windows with complex traceries basically replaced the wall between the pillars of the apse. At this time only the northern tower was completed. This age renounced strict symmetry. The side portals date from 1400 in the spirit of Czech national post-Parler Gothic. The three-part nave of the time, only temporarily roofed over, was arched in the era of Jiri of Podebrady around 1480. The complex and picturesque late Gothic star vaults rest on three pairs of tall cylindrical pillars. At the same time the sacristy appeared and, above it, the treasury. At the end of the 15th century, a beautiful Sternberk burial chapel in late Gothic style was built by Hans Spiess. In 1524 the church burned down and then radically changed its late-Gothic exterior appearance. In the Renaissance period the gables of the ridge roof were renewed, receiving Venetian curves. The roof dormers were similarly decorated. The gothic, high peak tent roof turret has never been restored and since then the church has its present roof. By examining the rafter beams, it was verified that the new wood for the roof frame was gradually cut in surrounding Bohemian forests in the years 1524 to 1531.

The form of the church remained essentially unchanged until one February night in 1835, when a lightning struck the late-Gothic roof of the north tower. The new roof from 1837 is its very simplified copy. Hundreds of years without major repairs have made their mark on the condition of the church. Therefore, in 1870, the eastern wall fell on the Sternberg chancel chapel, whose vault with an overhead keystone crashed down.

Repairs of the church were started by the architect Josef Mocker in 1880. With him, however, came around also a re-gothization of the church. Mocker was removing everything that he did not consider to be sufficiently Gothic. While at it, he repaired the arch of the presbytery, removed the main Baroque altar and replaced it by a new one, of his design. From the roof of the church vanished the great Renaissance gables and from the interior about 24 baroque altars. 
Fortunately, a lack of money prevented the full implementation of the then-fashionable re-gothization. 
 The newly remodeled church was again consecrated on December 2, 1883. Repairs continued until 1907, when the construction was took over by the architect Kamil Hilbert, known for his activities in the completion of the St. Vitus cathedral in Prague. This phase was ended by the repair of the Sternberk chapel in 1924.

The most recent repair of the church began in 1987 with the structural stabilization of the church tower and the repair of the outer walls. These repairs, financed by the city and the state, continued until 1995. Presently, the presbytery is at last being adjusted to face the congregation, a design by the architects Jan Soukup and Martin Kondr.
The greatest treasure of the cathedral is a statue of the Madonna of Pilsen from the late 14th century, as well as the large Crucifixion, hanging in the triumphal arch. Both works represent the height of Czech Gothic art.

The end of the communist rule allowed that in 1993 the many times postponed establishment of Pilsen diocese and the church of St. Bartholomew, the spiritual symbol of Pilsen, became a cathedral, seat of the Pilsner’s bishop.

18th-2-2013
The exhibition of design competition the second tower has began. You can watch them in Měšťanská Beseda in Pilsen to 29th Marz 2013. Admission is free.

06th-11-2012
Competition TWO TOWERS already has its winner! The results were announced on 11 6th 2012 at a press conference.

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29th−10−2012
evaluation meeting
of the Jury /