October 8, 1893: Náměstí Míru’s distinctive St. Ludmila church consecrated

Prague’s Náměstí Míru with the St. Ludmila church in 1920’s

A spectacular ceremony accompanied the consecration of the Basilica of St. Ludmila in Prague’s Vinohrady district 130 years ago. Over 300 maidens dressed in white, the Hlahol singing club and thousands of ordinary citizens took part in the six-hour-long celebrations. The consecration ceremony was led by the Prague Archbishop Franziskus von Paula Graf von Schönborn.

Church of Saint Ludmila in 1893 | Photo: Světozor,  29. 9. 1893

The three-nave Neo-Gothic basilica, which is easily spotted and recognised by its two 60-metre-high towers, is one of Prague’s most distinctive landmarks. It has been featured in many Czech films as a backdrop for wedding ceremonies – and not only in film: writer Jaroslav Hašek, the author of The Good Soldier Švejk, and president Edvard Beneš, Czechia’s wartime head of state, both got married there.

The foundation stone for the basilica was laid on November 25, 1888 and the whole church took five years to build. The tabernacle in the early North German Gothic style was designed by architect Josef Mocker, best known for completing St. Vitus Cathedral in the Prague Castle complex.

Other well-known artists of the time contributed to the exterior and interior design of the church, including sculptors Josef Václav Myslbek, František Hergessel and Antonín Procházka, and painters František Ženíšek and Adolf Liebscher. The interior of the 50-metre-long main nave features paintings and ornaments on the walls by Johann Jobst and colourful stained-glass windows depicting figures of saints, as well as a magnificent staircase.

In August 2022, Pope Francis elevated the Church of St. Ludmila to the status of basilica minor. Only 16 churches in Czechia boast this honorary title.

Vinohrady’s Church of Saint Ludmila in 1905 | Photo: e-Sbírky,  National Museum,  CC BY 4.0 DEED