St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral
Pilsen’s truly dominating feature is the Gothic-style St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral. The cathedral boasts the highest church tower in the Czech Republic (102.26 m/ 335.5 ft). After you’ve tackled the nearly 300 stairs to reach the top, a wonderful view of the entire city and surrounding region will open before you. On good-weather days, not only can you see the peaks of both the Bohemian and Upper Palatine Forests, but even part of the Alps.
Monday – Friday 10:00 – 18:00
Saturday – Sunday 13:00 – 18:00
Monday – Sunday 10:00–18:30
(admissions close at 18:00)
Single admission (tower):
Adult CZK 60
Children, students and seniors CZK 40
Family admission CZK 150
All-year season pass (tower):
Adult CZK 250
Children (6-15 years) CZK 120
Students and seniors CZK 170
301 00 Pilsen
History of the cathedral
Construction of the church, named after the devoted patron of Pilsen, St. Bartholomew, began at the same time of the city’s founding (1295) and was completed at the start of the 16th century. Only one of the two planned towers, the north and south towers, was ever finished. In 1993, when Pope John Paul II established a bishopric in Pilsen, the Church of St. Bartholomew became a cathedral.
The cathedral’s interior is currently under reconstruction. Once finished, visitors will not only be able to see the original Pilsen Madonna on the main altar, but also the richly decorated Sternberg Chapel and stunning stained glass. Additionally, a new exposition will be featured in the upper loft area. The cathedral could open its doors once more to visitors as soon as 2020, should everything go to plan.
The most valuable piece in the cathedral is the Pilsen Madonna. This Gothic marlite statue was made in the style of “a beautiful Czech Madonna” toward the end of the 14th century. Since then, flocks of pilgrims have travelled here to ask Madonna for help or to be healed from their afflictions. The fame of the Pilsen Madonna spread over the land, and it’s to no one’s surprise that imitations of the original began popping up. You can even find one such imitation situated on top a plague column nearby the cathedral. A human skull held aloft by Jesus refers to the plague.
The little angel of luck
The rear of the cathedral displays a sculptural group representing Christ on the Mount of Olives. An iron grating, featuring small angel heads, protects the sculptures. It’s here you’ll find that one angel has been quite well-thumbed in comparison to the others. That is exactly the place to which many locals still go to this day to offer up their prayers. One person will tell you the little angel will grant your wish, the next will claim it brings good fortune to your life if you touch it. You can decide which legend you prefer to believe. Either way, it’s definitely worth a try. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be leaving Pilsen a little luckier than when you came.