The Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul is probably the first thing you will notice upon your arrival to Brno. The city of Brno is full of beautiful churches, 45 to be precise, but the Basilica of St. Peter and Paul stands out from the rest and embodies one of the symbols of the town. If you’ve heard of Brno, chances are you’ve also heard of “Petrov”. This impressive monument was built on the Petrov hill from which it gets its nickname. No matter where you stand in Brno, the cathedral is looking down on you and has been doing so since the 11th and 12th centuries.
Since my arrival in Brno, I have been obsessed with this cathedral. As a French expat, I’m used to seeing buildings with similar gothic inspirations. In fact, many French architects, such as Matyas d’Arras, have worked on the construction of monuments in the Czech Republic since the Middle Ages, and vice versa. But beyond its architectural beauty, this church fascinates me by its timelessness. While the city continues to expand, the basilica still stands in the center as a symbol of the passage of time.
What used to be a small 12th-century church was quickly expanded into a Romanesque basilica in the 13th century. The remains of the cathedral were discovered in the late century during an archaeological study. The early Gothic interior was designed by the artist Moric Grimm in the 18th century. The “Kapistránka” pulpit on the left side of the hall is a remarkable piece of art. It is named after the Franciscan friar St. John of Capistrano, who preached in Brno in 1451.
The incredible story of Petrov
Have you noticed that the bells of the cathedral towers ring at 11 a.m. instead of at noon? This singular fact is a tribute to a legendary trick played by Jean-Louis Raduit de Souches on the Swedish army which was besieging Brno back in the 16th century.
As the story goes, the Swedes were occupying Brno and tried to attack and take over the Spilberk castle in the 15th and 16th centuries. But the Spilberk castle was defended by Jean-Louis Raduit. He had found out that the Swedes kept trying to take over the castle but couldn’t take it and that they decided to leave if they couldn’t conquer the city by 12 p.m. on the next day. So he sent a note to the cathedral and the cathedral rang 12 p.m. at 11 a.m. The Swedes left, thinking they didn’t make it on time. And since this day, the bells of the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral ring one hour earlier.
The Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul is part of the identity and landscape of the city. And there are so many other things to see! If you are looking for more information about the city of Brno, read our other articles: