November 1, 2012 – The Czech Mint has issued a platinum medal featuring St Wenceslas Cathedral in Olomouc. The medal commemorates a building that illustrates virtually the country’s whole history of art, and is limited to only 50 pieces. It is the fourth medal of the series ‘Notable Buildings.’
Czech Republic / .999 Platinum / 85 mm / 500 g / Design: Vladimír Oppl / Mintage: 50.
The medal’s obverse shows St Wenceslas Cathedral with its distinctive three towers. In the background a Greek Cross divides the field reminding of the fact that Olomouc is the archdiocese’s head. Along the edge runs the inscription: KATEDRÁLA SVATÉHO VÁCLAVA – OLOMOUC (St Wenceslas Cathedral – Olomouc). On the lower part of the field a ‘W’ symbolises St Wenceslas and the place in front of the cathedral that bears his name.
On the reverse a statue of St Wenceslas with crown, sword and banner is placed in the centre, in the background the field is decorated with rose window’s ornaments. The legend indicates the issue specifications: PLATINOVÁ INVESTICNÍ MEDAILE Pt 999 500 g (Platinum investment medal Pt 999 500 g).
The history of the cathedral in Olomouc started just after 1100 when count Svatopluk laid the foundation of a Romanesque basilica. But only in 1131 the splendid building was to be consecrated. And even then it would take another ten years until the church was totally completed. At this epoch the scriptorium – the room where precious manuscripts were copied – adjacent to the cathedral was considered one of the finest in whole Europe.
St Wenceslas Cathedral in Olomouc. Photo: xkomczax / Wikipedia.
Of course the monument did not remain always the same until today. In the aftermath of a fire the bishop’s church was completely renewed as Gothic style building according to the 13th century’s fashion then in vogue. Still the original pillars of the main aisle speak vividly of this period. But there are also traces of early Baroque, just take a look at the presbytery, the area around the altar that was reserved during certain hours to the clerus. St Wenceslas Cathedral in its current state is the work of architect Gustav Merett more than of anybody else. In the course of a further reconstruction on behalf of Cardinal Fürstenberg it was him who gave the cathedral its neo-Gothic appearance between 1883 and 1892. Only then the church was furnished with its so prominent towers: the two smaller twin towers on the front side and a third one, much mightier on the opposite side. The latter is 101 m high and the highest church tower in Moravia and second highest in the Czech Republic – a real landmark of Olomouc.
Statue of St Wenceslas in the St Vitus Cathedral, Prague. Source: Wikipedia.
The cathedral is dedicated to Bohemia’s patron saint, St Wenceslas. Thus a statue of this saint greets the visitors from above the main entrance, flanked by statues of the saints Cyril and Methodius – they are, by the way, the patron saints of Europe. Actually it is exactly this statue of St Wenceslas that is displayed on the medal’s reverse. The presbytery’s artful neo-Gothic windows show how Cardinal Fürstenberg gives the cathedral as votive donation to St Wenceslas.
The cathedral is located on St Wenceslas square in the centre of the historic town of Olomouc. By the way, just a few metres away another Wenceslas was assassinated: Wenceslas III, the last of the Premyslids after whose death the Kingdom of Moravia fell to the Habsburgians.
The Cathedral speaks of the city’s rich history and was thus chosen by the Czech Mint with good reason as motif of the fourth medal in the platinum medal series ‘Notable buildings.’
This precious issue made of pure platinum was designed by Vladimír Oppl and only 50 pieces are struck.
The bells of the cathedral are very famous. You can listen to their sound here.
You can take a look at the Cathedral by watching this video.
More information on the coin is available on the website of the Czech Mint.