Náměstí Svatopluka Čecha: Church of Saint Wenceslas
In 1929, to commemorate the millennial of the martyrdom of St Wenceslas, three major commissions were undertaken for the Catholic Church in Prague. The cathedral of St Vitus – begun in the 14th century – was completed, along with two entirely new buildings. One was the Church of the Sacred Heart in Vinohrady, the other the Church of Saint Wenceslas in Vršovice (above) designed by the eminent Czech architect Josef Gočár.
Built on the site of a former cemetery, Gočár’s functionalist design is notable for its ‘staircase’ roof, mirroring the naturally-sloping ground as it ascends towards a tall apse-shaped chancel. The West end, inscribed with the prayer ‘Saint Wenceslas, let neither us nor our descendants perish’, is surmounted by a 150-foot high white concrete tower with a window made of Luxfer prismatic glass.
For eighty years, the facade lacked the intended statue of Saint Wenceslas. Fortunately a one-tenth-scale maquette had been preserved by the family of its original designer Bedřich Stefan, and a half-ton bronze by sculptor Jan Roich based on that model was craned into position in September 2010.