ST. LUDMILA’S CHURCH
The cornerstone of this Pseudo-Gothic church made of bare brick was laid on 25 November 1888 on the occasion of the fortieth jubilee of the rule of His Majesty the Emperor and King Franz Josef I. By the way, the Emperor himself came to the site in 1891 to see how the project was developing. The construction of the church was financed by the Vinohrady Municipality, to the plans and under the supervision of Josef Mocker, the author of the work completing St. Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle. The building project was managed by the municipal engineer and architect Antonín Turek, Alois Bureš (a later Mayor), engineer Bohumil Staněk, and Josef Víšek (also a later Mayor). The church was consecrated on 8 October 1893 by the Archbishop of Prague, František Cardinal Schönborn.
The western facade of the three-nave church with a cross transept is adorned by two slim, 60-meter-tall towers. The four side entrances in the form of portals with a free staircase lead to church lobbies, above which are freely accessible terraces. Originally, the church boasted four bells: St. Ludmila (2,960 kg), St. Wenceslas (1,300 kg), St. Adalbert (800 kg), and St. Procopius (530 kg) from the workshop of H. Diepolt. During the First World War, the bells were confiscated and only a 78.5 kg death bell was left. In 1925, new bells were consecrated, made by Richard Herold in Chomutov. The facade of the church, whose ledges and ornamental details are made of Hožice stone, is made of Citoliby brick. Dark Moravian slate is used as the roof cover, and green slate from Železný Brod is used for decorations.
The exterior ornamentation is the work of, among other artists, Josef. V. Myslbek, the author of the relief in the tympanum depicting a seated Christ blessing the people, with the figures of St. Wenceslas and St. Ludmila on the sides. Myslbek also decorated the gable over the portal, with the relief of God the Father, with the symbol of the Holy Spirit, a dove. The decoration of the main facade is completed with five deep niches, the tallest of which, the central one, houses a statue of St. Ludmila (Ludvík Šimek), the church’s patron. Both gables of the transept are adorned with statues of Slavic patrons, St. Cyril (in the north), and St. Methodius (in the South). The author of the sculptures is Master Bernard Seeling. The emblems of the four evangelists were made by J. Čapek. Lower, in niches, are statues of St. Procopius and St. Adalbert by František Hergesella and Antonín Procházka.
The painted windows of the church were financed by donors. The southern windows of the transept were donated by the city builder and subsequent mayor of the municipality, Alois Bureš, and those in the north by the Vinohrady Savings Bank. Windows in the presbytery were donated by Mrs. Anna Novotná, and Anna Kocourková together with Marie Kocourková. Windows in the naves of the church were donated by Prince Jiří and Princess Anna of Lobkowicz; the local dean Václav Hampeis together with Vilém Enge; Father František Dusil and Father František Žák; Josef Háček and his wife Marie; Bohumila Vávrová, and Marie Kadová. The window paintings were designed by František Sequens, František Ženíšek, Adolf Liebscher, and František Urban. The pulpit was carved by J. Zika, the sculptures were made on the basis of models by Antonín Procházka. The side altar of the Virgin Mary, with six blessing Czech patrons, and the altar of St. Cyril and Methodius were designed by Štěpán Zálešák, a professor of the Prague School of Applied Arts (UMPRUM). The organ on the choir loft, with 3,000 pipes, boasts 46 registers divided into three manuals and a pedal.
The mass supplies were donated by Jan Vokoun. The lighting in the church has always been electrical.
With its elegant simplicity and placement in this slightly sloping square, this “jewel of a Vinohrady building” is often valued more than many fancier European neo-Gothic churches.