Tuesday
April
29th
2008
2:14 pm

(Not) Seeing the Czech Crown Jewels

The Czech crown jewels are not on permanent display, but are trotted out only once every few years, and the current display marks the first time in five years that they have been shown.

I had heard that, at the time of the last display, so many people lined up that the line was being closed by 11 AM (for an exhibit that closes its door to visitors at 5 PM), so I made a point of heading to Prague Castle at 9 AM on Saturday morning, only to find that the line, for an exhibit that opened at 9 AM, was already closed for the day. According to the Prague Post, people were getting in line at 3 in the morning! Given the popularity of the exhibit, I really don’t understand why the government doesn’t put the jewels on more frequent, if not permanent, display.

Since I wasn’t able to see the crown jewels but was in the general vicinity, I did pay a visit to the Loreto, which houses a replica of the Santa Casa in Loreto, Italy. (I highly recommend the website’s virtual tour.)
Loreto, Prague
Reportedly, the Loreto was built during the 17th century as part of the Catholic campaign to attract the Czechs back to Catholicism.

Besides the Church of the Nativity and the Santa Casa, the complex houses a treasury which was well worth the visit. The most stunning piece on display was a diamond-encrusted monstrance known as the Prague Sun.

The entrance fee of 110 CZK is waived for priests and religious, which I thought a charming professional gesture.

I’m told by one of my students that replicas of the crown jewels are on permanent display at Karlštejn (a castle near Prague), so I suppose I’ll have to make the trek out there one of these days. It won’t be quite the same, but at least I’ll get a rough sense of what I missed.

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