June 10, 1854: The foundation stone of the Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius is laid in Karlín

Church of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Karlín

The ceremony was attended by Emperor Franz Joseph I and his wife Elisabeth, also known as Sissi. The imperial couple also made a significant contribution to a public fundraiser for the construction of one of the largest church buildings of its time. 

The basilica was inaugurated in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph I and his wife Elisabeth on June 10,  1854. | Photo repro: Staletá Praha,  r. 33,  2017,  A. Klinerová,  Chrám sv. Cyrila a Metoděje v Praze-Karlíně/Archiv Římskokatolické farnosti u kostela sv. Cyrila  a Metoděje Praha-Karlín

The collection was financially supported by the Emperor's predecessor Ferdinand I of Austria, who lived in Prague after his abdication, and later by the widowed Empress Caroline, after whom the newly built district was named - Karolinenthal - Karlín. Marie Riegrová-Palacká and her Committee of Ladies also contributed to the success of the collection. Nine years after the laying of the foundation stone, on the day of the millennium of the arrival of the Slavic heroes Cyril and Methodius, the church was consecrated by the Archbishop of Prague and Cardinal Bedřich Schwarzenberg.

Unique decoration of the sanctuary

Photo: Klára Stejskalová,  Radio Prague International

The three-nave basilica in the Neo-Romanesque style by architects Carl Roesner and Vojtěch Ignác Ullman is dominated by two 74-metre high towers on the south side. The stone entrance portal is completely unique. It is one of the most decorative in the world, and can rival the portals of the cathedrals in Reims or Aachen. The central motif is the blessing of Christ and the kneeling Saints Cyril and Methodius. The author of this scene is Václav Levý. In addition to him, a number of outstanding artists of the time, such as Čeněk Vosmík, František Ženíšek, František Sequens and Josef Matyáš Trenkwald, contributed to the rich decoration of the church. Inside we find an organ with three thousand pipes, which was the largest in the country at the time.

Devastating floods

The building of the famous church on Karlínské náměstí has avoided various disasters and survived the air raids on nearby factories during the Second World War. The disaster came with the floods of 2002, when the water flooded the church up to a height of two metres. Extensive repairs lasting three years were again made possible thanks to the financial help of thousands of donors.

Source: Český rozhlas