Prague Minos Guide

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9. - 13. století

Romanesque Era

Austere stone buildings period
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Romanesque architecture was the earliest architectural style connected to the rise of medieval Europe. Its austere forms were very remote echoes of Ancient Rome, giving its name to the style as well. Therefore, we can perceive Romanesque architecture, among others, as a link between the ancient world and the medieval world. It brought aspects of the Antique style even to a land such as Bohemia that had no direct experience of the ancient world.
From the viewpoint of European architecture history, the Romanesque era lasted for quite a long time, from Charles the Great´s reign before 800 until the 13th century. In the Czech lands, the first documented Romanesque architecture originates in the 9th century (Great Moravian Empire), as well as at the end of the 10th century (Přemyslid State). Romanesque buildings in Prague are especially from the 11th and the 12th centuries, and some of them have been preserved until today. The most typical Romanesque structure was the rotunda, a central chapel, the circular horizontal projection of which can be derived from the Roman

Pantheon. There are good examples of such structures in the Old Town, the rotunda of St. Cross, the New Town rotunda of St. Longin, or the rotunda of St. Martin at Vyšehrad.
The shrine of St. Vitus was also originally designed as a monumental rotunda. It is the most important sacred building in Prague and today's cathedral of St. Vitus predecessor. It was replaced with a huge basilica at the end of the 11th century. The appearance of this royal basilica can be imagined if you look at the neighbouring St. George Basilica, which preserved its original appearance despite later modification.
The significance of Prague in Romanesque times is backed up by numerous preserved stone houses, which have been until today hidden in the basements and under the later facades of the Old Town buildings (for example the house of Masters from Kunštát, and a house of Masters from Poděbrady – house no. 222-I in Řetězová Street). It is at that time that the irregular layout of the Old Town was formed, and still, we can today admire the surprising opulence of Romanesque Prague.


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