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Prague: The Crown of Bohemia, 1347–1437

September 20, 2005–January 3, 2006

St. Vitus Cathedral

From the laying of the foundation stone for St. Vitus Cathedral in 1344, three years before Charles became king, he took great interest in the project and significantly expanded the original plan. One of the great cathedrals of Europe, St. Vitus was built to serve many functions: it was the spiritual center of Prague and the kingdom of Bohemia, the coronation church and the final resting place of kings and queens, and the repository of the crown jewels of Bohemia.

Because of strictly limited access to the cathedral's treasury since World War II, the works on loan to the exhibition are virtually unknown. Of particular interest are the Ara Coeli Virgin, an icon that Charles brought to Prague after he visited Pope Urban V in Rome, a gem-encrusted rock crystal ewer reliquary for a fragment of the tablecloth from the Last Supper, and a gilded silver tabernacle—a superbly detailed miniature Gothic cathedral—that is associated with the Parler family, the cathedral's architects (Treasury of St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague). Renowned across Central Europe, the same family of master builders also oversaw the construction of Cologne Cathedral, from which two sculptures attributable to the Parlers are shown.