Crown jewels to be shown for a short time

Long lines are expected for a rare exhibit of the authentic crown of St Wenceslas

The Bohemian Crown Jewels will go on display at the Vladislav Hall of Prague Castle from Jan. 16 to Jan. 23. Admission is free but long lines are expected.

The exhibition, called the Symbolic Power of the Czech Crown Jewels, is part of a series of events to mark the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia and the 25th anniversary of the Czech Republic.

The jewels were last shown May 15 to 29, 2016, for the 700th anniversary of Charles IV’s birth. They were shown to the public nine times in the 20th century and this coming exhibition will be the fifth in the 21st century.

The crown jewels, including a crown, orb, and scepter, are kept in a vault in St Vitus’ Cathedral. The chamber has seven locks, and seven significant Czech figures including President Miloš Zeman hold the keys. The other key holders are the prime minister, the Prague archbishop, the chairman of the House of Deputies, the chairman of the Senate, the dean of the Metropolitan Chapter of St. Vitus’ Cathedral and the mayor of Prague.

The keyholders will open the vault on Jan. 15, and a ceremony will be held at 2 pm at the St Wenceslas Chapel in St Vitus Cathedral. The crown jewels will then be moved to Vladislav Hall, where they will be on display for the public from 10 am to 5 pm on weekdays and 9 am to 5 pm on weekends.

The line to enter Vladislav Hall will go through the South Garden, and when the daily capacity is reached, the gates to the South Garden will be closed. This can occur hours before the closing time of the exhibit.

The jewels will be displayed for the first time in a new showcase, allowing visitors to see the St Wenceslas crown from all sides.

A helmet of St Wenceslas, his armor, and sword, used at the coronation ceremonies of the Czech kings, will also be on display.

On the way to the display, visitors will pass panels describing the fate of the jewels and the development of their symbolic meaning after 1918.

These will answer why the jewels are used as a state symbol even though the Czech Republic is a democracy without a monarchy, and no real need for a crown.

The exhibition of the royal jewels follows right after a display of documents relate to the establishment of Bohemia, plus illustrated manuscripts and items from noble graves, which was held at Prague Castle from Jan. 10 to 15. The lines on the weekend were over an hour long for that exhibit.

Further exhibits to celebrate Czech history will start in February, and run for longer amounts of time so the lines for those should not be so daunting.

The crown jewels were originally held at Karlštejn Castle. Since 1791 they have been kept in St Vitus’ Cathedral at Prague Castle.

The crown was made for the coronation of Charles IV in 1347 and is the fourth-oldest in Europe.

The crown is made from 22-carat gold with 19 sapphires, 30 emeralds, 44 spinels, 20 pearls, one ruby, one rubellite and one aquamarine. At the top of the crown is the cross, which allegedly has a thorn from Christ's crown of thorns.

The scepter is 18-carat gold, with four sapphires, five spinels and 62 pearls with a large spinel mounted on top of the scepter. The orb is made from 18-carat gold with eight sapphires, six spinels, and 31 pearls. It is decorated with scenes from the Old Testament.

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