St Bartholomew's Cathedral


The parish church and since 1993 also the Plzeň bishop's cathedral is a monumental Gothic church built at the end of the 13th century. Located in the middle of the main square, the church was all built of gristone, from its foundations to the roof. The external perimeter of the church, including the supporting pillars, is 57.6 m long and 26.0 m wide. There used to be two steeples at the front side, but the southern one was damaged by fire in 1525 and subsequently lowered to the side body height. The Northern steeple, with its masonry height of 56.3 m, was amended after fire in 1835 with the present slim pyramidal roof, which is 46 m tall. The total height of the steeple, which is 102.3 m, makes it the tallest church steeple in the Czech Republic. The steeple ground floor is vaulted in stone, upper floors are wooden. In the uppermost floors, there are bells and a large clock above them.

Three-aisle construction of the church is divided by three pairs of robust round pillars into three bodies of the same height with lierne vault. Both side aisles have 4 giant cuspated windows with rich traceries. The slightly lower and narrower chancel is vaulted with three severies of groined vault and lighted from seven narrow tall windows with simple traceries. Adjacent to the southern side of the presbytary is the well known Šternberk Chapel, built in late Gothic style and vaulted with overhead keystone.

The Main Altar was constructed in 1883 according to designs of the architect Josef Mocker by the Viennese carver Josef Leimr in neogothic style. The most precious and famous artistic relic in the church is the ancient sculpture of the merciful Virgin Mary (the so-called Madonna of Plzeň), standing in a niche on the main altar. The sculpture dates back to the 2nd half of the 14th century, which was the so-called „Period of Beautiful Madonnas“. Statued from arenaceous marble and 1,34 m tall, this sculpture belongs among the most precious Gothic relics in our country. As a matter of interest – around 1750 there used to be 33 altars at the St. Bartholomew's. The organ loft is a place of monumental organ constructed in 1894 by the organ builder Emanuel Petr in Prague.

On the organ loft pillar, there is a painting by D. Tintoretto dating back to 1586, depicting St. Mary Magdalene. Till the reign of Joseph II., there used to be a cemetery around the church and two ossuaries, built around 1728. The original old bells were destroyed in the great fire of the northern spire in 1835 (the oldest one was the „St. Vitus“ from 1411). Nowadays, the cathedral has five newer bells.

There is also another monument worth mentioning, the Marian Pillar at the square, northeast of the cathedral. It was built by the Plzeň community in 1681 in an effort to prevent plague epidemic.

It goes without saying that this cathedral offers divine services every day, with the main sacred mass of the parish on Sundays at 1030. During Sunday services, you may regularly enjoy performance of Schola of the St. Bartholomew's Cathedral, accompanied by the organ and singing together with all other people present at the service.



Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary


The mendicant order of the St. Francis was introduced to Plzeň simultaneously with the city foundation in the late 13th century. This order built its monastery with a church in the southeastern area of the city, adjacent to the city walls. Franciscans were then very popular among people, who would give them many generous gifts and heritages. Peaceful development of the monastery was interrupted by the Hussites, who damaged it quite much, and its renovation in 1434-59 required high costs. At the time, when Plzeň temporarily became an asylum for the Prague Metropolitan Chapter (15th century), the monastery was a place where the Chapter's documents and even the St. Vitus Cathedral treasure were hidden. In the second half of the 16th century, the monastery was barely surviving (in 1574, there were only two brethren). Hard times came again at the beginning of the Thirty Years War. When conquering the city, Mansfeld's army broke through the city walls just behind the monastery, which consequently suffered vast damage.

At the end of the 18th century, the government issued an edict that the monastery church will provide divine services in German language for almost a thousand of the local German residents. Despite all disasters, the monastery and the church in fact retained their original from from the early Gothic period. The three-aisle church has Gothic ribbed vault, grandiose Gothic arch of triumph and spacious chancel, also vaulted in Gothic ribbed vault. The most precious relic in the church is the main altar, dating back to the 17th century. It is beautifully carved and decorated with a large painting depicting The Assumption of Virgin Mary, a copy of the famous painting by Rubens. In the upper section, there is a smaller oval painting of the Holy Trinity. Both paintings were made in the second half of the 17th century. In 1692, a Gothic wooden sculpture of Virgin Mary was placed above the sanctuary, resembling the aforementioned sculpture from the St. Bartholomew's Cathedral, but from a later period, dating back to the 15th century.

At the sides of of the church, several chapels were gradually built – the tall chapel of the Holy Trinity (r. 1611), the St. Antonius chapel (2nd half of the 17th century), the chapel with a cavern of Our Lady of Lourdes (19th century). The church spire is located at the northern side in the corner between the eastern wall of the side aisle and the northern wall of the chancel, roofed with slated bulb roof. Adjacent to the southern side of the church, there is a two-storey monastery building, with regular square ground plan. The Gothic ambulatory in the ground floor houses a remarkable pulpit from 1543, and adjacent to the eastern side of the ambulatory there is the old Gothic Chapel of St. Barbara with precious wall painting dating back to 1460.

Nowadays, after refurbishment of a part of the monastery, it is the site of the parish office of the St. Bartholomew's, and repairs of the remaining parts are underway. Members of the Franciscan order in Plzeň do not reside in the monastery, but in a private apartment at the Vinice suburbs.


Church of St. George - Malesice


Originally a Gothic church from 1597, expanded and refurbished in 1815. It is a single-aisle, rectangular building with a square presbytary and rectangular vestry at the side, and prismatic tower at the southern side of the aisle. The presbytary has cross ribbed vaults supported by pyramidal consoles, the aisle has a flat ceiling. The newly refurbished vestry is vaulted by two bays of saucers. The organ loft on pillars is undervaulted by saucers. At the southern side at the tower floor, there is an oratory. From the presbytary to the vestry leads a Gothic gable-profiled portal. Furnishing is pseudo-gothic dating back to 1877, according to design by B. Wachsmann. The main altar features a painting by A. Lhota. In the presbytary, there is a painting of Blessed Virgin Mary, in a rococo style frame. Below the organ loft, there is a late Gothic relief of St. George dating back to 1520, transferred from the church in Chotíkov.


Church of Elevation of the Holy Cross


Dating back to 1834, the church was in Classicism style as a single-aisled, narrowly rectangular building, triangular outside, semicircular outside ended with a presbytary and with a square vestry on the northern side. The presbytary, aisle and vestry vaulted with saucers, separated by cylindrical girths; the organ loft is undervaulted with saucers. Furnishing: on the main altar, adjusted in 1873 according to the design by B. Wachsmann, there is a painting Crucifiction by K. Škréta from the period around 1670; at the side altar of St. Joseph there are sculptures of St. Anthony of Padua and St. Francis Seraf. from the 18th century: rococo style pulpit.