Bethlehem Chapel (Betlémská kaple)
The chapel was founded in 1391 for Czech sermons, and Jan Hus preached here from 1402 to 1413. In 1786 it was largely destroyed, and it was not until the 1950s that a replica of the original structure was built using the remains of the original walls. Today the space serves as a ceremonial hall for the Czech Technical University. In the adjacent Preacher's House, an exhibition about the history of the chapel is located on the first floor and includes the residential quarters where Master Jan Hus lived.
November – March
- Whole week
- 10.00 – 17.30
April – October
- Whole week
- 10.00 – 18.30
24 and 31 December closed
closed on the days of the Czech Technical University graduations and other events
EXHIBITION in the adjoining Preacher´s House:
- Bethlehem Chapel in Czech history and tradition of the non-Catholic belief
- Life and Work of Master Jan Hus, preacher´s apartment in the upper space
Bethlehem gallery – exhibition hall of the Czech Technical University in the underground.
Guided tours in Czech and foreign languages with no additional fee; printed information about the chapel available in many languages.
capacity 400 seats, heated in winter
It is located in place of a Classicist three-storied house built in the years 1836 - 1837, which had in its foundations and walls small remains of the previous building. In the beginning of the 12th century, there was a small Romanic church of St. Philip and James in this place, with a cemetery. Next to the church, on a land plat named Skalsko, the original Chapel of Bethlehem was established in 1391 by Hanuš of Mühlheim, a rich burgess and a courtier of king Václav IV, and a businessman Václav Kříž. Václav Kříže donated the land, which was a part of his house, money, and he also got a relic for the chapel - remains of probably one of the infants murdered in Bethlehem. The founded the chapel in order to hold Bohemian sermons. It was consecrated on the day of the Holy Infants slain in Bethlehem - thus its name. however, it was too big for a chapel, as it could contain as many as 3000 people, and therefore it was simply called Bethlehem. The chapel was also a free burial place. The first person buried here, directly below the pulpit, was the founder Hanuš of Mühlheim. We know about other burials in the chapel thanks to engineer Česlav Krýž, who made a list of all the tombstones before the demolition. Among other people buried here, there was a preacher Jakoubek of Stříbro or Jiří Melantrich, a well-known printer and publisher.
Founding of the chapel was an important act, which can be documented on the attendance of Prague Archbishop Jan of Jenštejn as well as on the interest of King Václav IV. In 1402 - 1413, when Master Jan Hus held his sermons here, the place became very popular. The nobility would come here, as well as the ordinary people, and sometimes even Queen Sophia herself. The place gradually turned into a cradle of the reform movement, which later resulted in the Hussite Wars. Among the other preachers, there was Jakoubek of Stříbro, Mikuláš Řehovec, and Tomáš Münzer in the 16th century.
After the death of Hus and the Hussite Wars, the chapel became the centre of the church with communion under both kinds. In 1609 it was acquired by the Unity of the Brethren (Jednota bratrská) in Prague. After the Battle of Bílá hora it was confiscated by the Roman Catholic Church, and in 1661 the Jesuits purchased it and turned it into a Catholic church. When the order was abolished, the Chapel was deconsecrated upon an order of Joseph II and demolished in 1786. Before that, however, all the objects were put on a list, valuated and sold in an auction. Only the sacristy was preserved with a room on the first floor where the flat of the chapel’s custodian was, and where Jan Hus used to live before.
The idea to renew the chapel occurred as early as in 1916 with the director of the National Museum Karel Guth and his successor architect Alois Kubišek; during the era of the first republic, professor Antonín Frinta organized a gathering among the Evangelic churches to raise money for building a new chapel, but the time was not right. Only in 1950 the decision was made to build the chapel anew, upon an initiative of Zdeněk Nejedlý. Based on the original medieval state, ascertained thanks to old pictures, architect Jaroslaf Fragner designed a copy of the original building, while keeping the original features within the newly built construction. The chapel was opened for public on the 5th July 1954. The walls were decorated by the students of AVU (Academy of Graphic Arts) with pictures and texts from Jenský kodex, Richenthal chronicle, Velislav’s Bible, Hymn book of Jistebnice and other contemporary sources according to the selection of Z. Nejedlý.
Some adjoining buildings were restored additionally, and an exhibition hall was established, called the House of the Preachers. The reconstruction took place in the years 1991 - 1992. The Bethlehem Chapel is the property of the Czech Technical University. Since 1962 it has been a National Cultural Monument.