Note: check out our first article on gothic architecture in Prague here.
Late in the 13th century, the style known as High Gothic began to gain popularity in the Kingdom of Bohemia. These new buildings were taller and (as they contained more windows) lighter.
A visit to Kutná Hora (about an hour by train or bus; the train station, being on the outskirts of town, means a longer walk to the city center) will give you the opportunity to see the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady and Saint John the Baptist. It was one of the first High Gothic buildings to be constructed in the Kingdom of Bohemia.
It was also the first church that resembled those found in France at that time. The rise of High Gothic architecture came about during the reign of King Wenceslas II, but the style was used during the reign of two more kings, one legendary.
John of Luxembourg married Elizabeth of Bohemia in 1310, becoming King of Bohemia. John, not a native of Bohemia, was not inspired to create many new buildings during his reign. It was not long before the Luxembourgian king set off for foreign lands, leaving others to rule in his stead.
It was up to Jan IV z Dražic, the Bishop of Prague, to add to the city’s constructions. Jan invited French builders to his workshop in Roudnice nad Labem, including William of Avignon, who helped local stonemasons to complete a bridge over the Labe.
Another huge achievement was his construction of St. Giles’s Church, still towering over Husová street in Old Town, not far from Národní.
The year 1333 was one of immense importance for the future of Czech architecture. Charles, the son of John of Luxembourg, returned to Bohemia from the royal court of France, where he had been raised. The 17-year-old prince acted as administrator of the lands of the Crown of Bohemia. Charles, who was so enthusiastic about construction that his favorite phrase may well have been “Let’s build another one,” changed Prague into the city we know today.
In 1344, Charles, with the help of his father and Arnošt of Pardubice (the Archbishop of Prague) founded the monumental St. Vitus’s Cathedral in the Prague Castle complex. Matthias of Arras worked on it first; after he died, the legendary Petr Parleř took over.
Charles, of course, also had the Charles Bridge built, as well as Charles University and the whole of Prague’s New Town. Elsewhere in Bohemia, Charles was responsible for the construction of the fairytale Karlštejn Castle and the imposing Kašperk Castle.
Building came to a halt during the Hussite Wars, including the construction on St. Vitus’s Cathedral. With the resumption of construction came the founding of the Church of Our Lady before Týn, still gracing the Old Town Square. This church is in the Late Gothic style.
Up at Prague Castle, Late Gothic was used for several sections, including Vladislav Hall. The Powder Tower in Old Town was constructed during this period, the late 15th century.
Another of Kutná Hora’s gems is St. Barbara’s Cathedral, with its dizzyingly high ceiling and massive windows.