Krakovec - A Late Gothic masterpiece, now in ruins

  • Wheelchair accessibility: No

Krakovec to the west of Prague conveys the unique atmosphere of the time of Wenceslas IV, a period of the florid Gothic style, of the famous Bohemian ‘Beautiful Madonnas’. Here there is architectural unity, originality and a certain "incomprehensible complexity" as well as great dimensional richness in the vaulting.

Krakovec Castle is one of the pinnacles of the development of Czech castle architecture of the 14th century, and as the defensive function of the castle was considerably suppressed, it represents a developmental link between a castle and a chateau. But the once so boldly conceived, grandiose and impressive residence is now but a proud ruin. The Gothic architecture, is in some way poetry made of stone, or as in a prayer expressed by Julius Zeyer  "it seemed that it doesn’t know what it is / the stone temple seemed to be a prayer / which wafted into the sky from the earth, / and every stone imbued with the thought /it had the shape of a flower." Well, Krakovec is the personification of one of the many forms of this poetry, sanctified by prayer and in the presence of the master Jan Hus. The most remarkable element is original chapel space and the spatial and vaulting arrangement with a pentagonal presbytery in the form of a slant-lined large oriel. Its vaulting has a certain "incomprehensible complexity" and dimensional richness, completely new qualities in the history of medieval vaults. Therein lies the originality of the vault, for which an analogous European solution has not been indicated.
The vaults were mostly cross-shaped, the stone ribbing was covered, not bound to the vault. From the research findings it can be concluded that the original construction enabled the vaulting of the irregular layout with regular cross-shaped vaults with circular ribs on a single radius.
Krakovec is reached via a wood hewn bridge. Poetic symposia, theatre performances, concerts, worship and Hus pilgrimages take place here.

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