TOP - a recommended destination in České Budějovice
The establishment of St Nicholas Cathedral dates as far back as the 13th century, when it was founded as a parish church for the royal town of České Budějovice. It was rebuilt in the Late Gothic style in 1518-1535. A great fire consumed almost the entire building in 1641, and afterwards it was rebuilt again, this time in the Baroque style. Its Baroque renovation was entrusted to Italian architects J. Cipriani and F. Canevalle. The cathedral was completed in 1649, but another Italian architect G. A. de Maggi converted the church facade to its present-day form in 1686-1688. The cathedral also underwent more modifications and repairs in the following years. The inner triple nave is divided by three pairs of massive prismatic pillars. The rich stucco decoration was made by T. Zeisl. The main altar dating to 1791 by Z. Hueber is dominated by a large-scale painting of St Nicholas from 1648 by D. Bachmann.
It may come as a surprise to some that there was a cemetery in the immediate surroundings of the church; it was functional from the city’s foundation to 1784, when it was closed. It was intended primarily for the city’s burghers. An archeological excavation in 2001 uncovered the rather interesting contents of the graves: jewelry, medallions and necklace crosses. The excavation conducted by the South Bohemian Museum, continued inside the church in 2010-2012. It exposed a chapel, tombs and graves. After the new diocese was established in České Budějovice, the church was elevated to cathedral status. It became the first and main church of the whole diocese, headed by the bishop.