Chapel of St Catherine, Kunitice Castle
Here we go – my first article for this website! writes Katerina Doubravova. I have to confess at first – I was wondering for quite long time about the theme for this article. I had many ideas but none of them felt as the right one for this time. Then one evening when I was getting back to home from Prague, this idea just popped up in my head. So here it is. Today I’m going to write about chapel of Saint Catherine at Kunìtice castle. Why? Well there are two main reasons. First one is that I wanted something that is at least little bit conected with me in some way. And because my name is Catherine too, I found that good. Also I think that the legend about her is interesting. Second reason is that I wanted to write about something I know well. And I spent at this castle whole summer so I quess that I know this chappel a lot.
Time for another confess – when I visited this chapel for first time without any knowledge about it, it seemed to me as common and not so interesting. This place is not big as many others. Also is not the oldest. The walls are “destroyed” by vandalists. But now? Now I see this chapel in completely different way. Much more interesting and having its own charm.
So let´s start with some history and geography. This chapel is located in eastern Bohemia near Pardubice city. It’s part of the castle complex named Kunìtická hill. (Kunìtická hora in czech language). The first written mention about the existence of the castle dates back to 1421 but with certainty we can say that the castle was here earlier thanks to archaeological finds.
The greatest importance for the development of the castle had family of the Lords of Pernštejn. They bought this castle in 1491 and immediately started with a reconstruction. At that time the chapel of Saint Catherine was built.
The chapel is built in the Gothic-Renaissance style and is consecrated (as already mentioned) to Saint Catharine. It was designed for the worship of William of Pernstein and his family.
Chapel was burned down twice – in 1556 (the lightning struck it) and in 1645 (by Sweden army during Thirty Years’ War). Despite these events, there is still an original ceiling with an amazing diamond vault. This type of arch is very rare in the Czech lands, originating in Germany, very modern for its time (and for today’s time as well).
The walls here are not just plain white. Archaeologists in archaeological research uncovered various old-time signatures of vandals between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. This signature in the picture belongs to Johann, who signed here in 1680.
Maybe you also caught the cross in which Johan signed. Maybe I disappoint you, but it’s not a Templar Cross. It is a concretization cross that consecrated the chapel again after the desecration by Sweden army in 1645.
Another interesting thing here is this marble slab. I was put in honor of the visit of two very important lords of the 19th century, namely Emperor Franz I. and Prince Rudolf in 1820. Various vandals have been signed here too.
The last thing I’ll show you in this chapel is a 300-year-old Baroque altar of saint Catherine. She is the patron saint of all scholars and philosophers. This painting shows the end of the legend of Saint Catherine. She is painted here with a spiked break wheel and a sword and also with her attribute – palm spruce. I recommend reading the legend about it, you can find it easily on the internet.
You can visit the chapel together with the whole castle for 90 crowns (about 3 pounds) or only a chapel for 20 crowns (not a pound). The castle is open to the public from April to October.