Friday, November 25, 2011:Looking Up!
Ceiling Contest: Looking Up!
Here’s another performance venue’s ceiling to help you keep looking up, even in these dreary November days. Can you identify it? Here are some clues:
The site of this ceiling has witnessed many unhappy historic events since it was first used for a small church in the 12th century.
Three hundred years later, now a monastery, it was destroyed by the Hussites.
In the 1730s a new Roman Catholic church was built here to commemorate the newly-canonized saint Charles Borromeo, and part was used as a kind of pensioners’ home for aged priests. But Emperor Joseph II closed it in 1783.
At that time, the street ended at the church. But in the 1800s the street was extended all the way to the Vltava River, leaving the main door high and dry and suspended several meters above the road.
A new entrance had to be tacked on to let the people in.
Undoubtedly, the saddest moment in the church building’s modern history occurred on June 18, 1942 when seven Czechoslovak commandos hid in the crypt; two of them had assassinated protectorate leader Reinhardt Heydrich. But 800 Nazi SS troops battled for more than eight hours to flush out the resisters, who all eventually committed suicide rather than be captured. The gruesome details of this event can be found in memorials at the church and in detailed written histories, and need not be elaborated here.
The church was later used by the army, and partly by the Prague Technical University, which still has a portion of it today.
In happier news, the church is currently used by about 200 Orthodox worshippers at services several times a week, and is also the venue for concerts, especially choral music.
It’s the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius, today named for two Orthodox priests who are celebrated with a national holiday each July 5th. Among other things, they are credited with bringing the written Slavic alphabet to the Czech lands. – oo
Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička