St Vitus’s Cathedral has extensive fire protection

The Czech President’s Office says that millions of crowns have been invested recently

In the wake of the fire that destroyed the roof and spire of Notre-Dame de Paris, the Czech President’s Office has reassured the public over steps taken to protect St Vitus’ Cathedral at Prague Castle in case of fire or other potential hazards.

The President’s Office has also offered the services of Prague Castle’s restoration workshops to help Paris in rebuilding. The restorers can help with paintings, tapestries, and metal and stone objects, among other things.

As of now, an accident related to restoration work is suspected in the Paris fire. Prague’s safety measures look at both potential accidental and intentional causes of fires.

The Gothic cathedral’s earliest construction dates to 1344, and it was completed only in 1929. It is the largest church in the country and has been the site of many historic events.

The President's Office invests about Kč 20 million annually in cathedral maintenance and renovation the, including fire protection, which has added up to Kč 10 million over the past three years, according to the President’s Chancellor Vratislav Mynář.

The first level of security is to keep away potential arsonists.”With security measures at the entrance to Prague Castle, we try to minimize the possibility of arson attacks," Mynář said. Tourists in recent years upon entering the Castle must undergo a personal search and walk through a security frame.

From the point of view of security, the biggest problem is that thousands of people can gather in the cathedral. The building has an evacuation plan for both people and valuables.

The cathedral has many irreplaceable relics, such as the silver reliquary of St Jan Nepomucký. The Crown of St Wenceslas and other crown jewels are stored in a treasury in one of the towers.

The cathedral itself has 145 fire detectors and 29 fire extinguishers. In addition to smoke detectors, there are also beam and mirror devices that detect beam interruption from smoke or dust.

Water can be pumped into the upper parts of the cathedral through three standpipes that can handle over 1,200 liters per minute. The wooden roof with a large tower is protected with 70 special fire extinguishers.

High risk areas, such as electrical rooms, are being isolated so the historical parts are not damaged if fires start there.

Prague Castle is protected by the Prague Castle Fire Brigade, which has regularly training and exercises.

The firefighting unit is located directly in the castle grounds in the former riding yard. It should take one minute for the units to leave the station and they should be fighting the fire within four minutes. More than Kč 10 million were invested in a special vehicle that can better navigate the Prague Castle area.

This cathedral is a prominent example of Gothic architecture and is the largest and most important church in the country. It contains the tombs of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors. The cathedral is under the ownership of the Czech government as part of the Prague Castle complex. Cathedral dimensions are 124 by 60 meters, the main tower is 102.8 meters high, front towers 82 meters, and the arch height is 33.2 meters.

Construction of the present-day Gothic Cathedral began Nov. 21, 1344, when Prague was elevated to an archbishopric. King John of Bohemia laid the foundation stone for the new building. Shortly after, Emperor Charles IV took over and wanted the new cathedral to be a coronation church, family crypt, treasury for relics, and the last resting place of St Wenceslaus.

The first master builder was a Frenchman Matthias of Arras. who designed the overall layout of the building, based on French examples.
After Matthias' death in 1352, 23-year-old Petr Parléř took over as master builder.

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