Collection to restore Prague’s Church of St. Michael raises CZK 1 million in under a month

The 17th century wooden church, originally from Ukraine, was completely destroyed by fire Oct. 28.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 02.12.2020 10:49 (updated on 06.12.2020)

The public has donated over CZK 1 million toward the reconstruction of the destroyed Church of St. Michael in Prague’s Kinský Garden. The church was destroyed in an Oct. 28 fire. The cause of the blaze has not been determined, and the total cost of the reconstruction cannot yet be estimated.

A public donation campaign was launched Nov. 5 so people could contribute to rebuilding the landmark structure. The threshold of CZK 1 million was reached on the afternoon of Nov. 30. Most donations were CZK 1,000 and under, but some were as high as CZK 50,000.

People can continue to contribute to account 500089822/0800 until Nov.4, 2021. In the meantime, Prague City Hall is continuing preparatory work for the reconstruction. The church is owned by the city of Prague, and has been used by the Orthodox Church for several decades.

The Oct. 28 fire could be seen from across the city.
The Oct. 28 fire could be seen from across the city. (photo: Raymond Johnston – Expats.cz)

Prague City Hall thanked all the donors who have contributed so far. “Small donors are involved in the collection, as well as those who contribute tens of thousands of crowns. Due to the effects of the government restrictions related to the coronavirus crisis, we all have less in our pockets. I highly appreciate the people who are already involved in the restoration of the wooden church of St. Michael, and I thank everyone very much,” City Councilor Hana Třeštíková (Praha sobě), responsible for culture, tourism and conservation, said.

Currently, the state of the entire building is being documented. Pictures of what is left of the church are being taken and 3D scanning of the current site will also be done in cooperation with the National Heritage Institute (NPÚ), which will prepare the documentation for the city free of charge.

In the next phase, a protective structure should be created that will preserve the remaining parts of the church so that weather does not cause further degradation.

In the coming weeks, there will also be a coordination meeting between representatives of the city and clergy to address cooperation or assistance with the documentation and the interior renovation.

Ruins of the Church of St Michael / via Prague Fire Brigade
Ruins of the Church of St Michael. (photo: Prague Fire Brigade)

The wooden church, built in the second half of the 17th century, originally stood in the village of Velké Loučky. It was part of Czechoslovakia before World War II, but is now part of Ukraine. The structure was dismantled, transported and rebuilt in Prague in 1929. It was a gift from the Ruthenians to their then-capital Prague.

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The church is about 14 meters long and 8 meters wide, the tower reached a height of about 17 meters. The timbered parts of the church were covered with a shingle roof. It was built in the so-called Boykov style with elements of folk baroque.

The church later became part of the collections of the ethnographic department of the National Museum in Prague.

This is not the first public collection to rebuild a landmark destroyed by fire. The first version of the National Theatre in Prague, which opened in 1881, was built after public collection. That theater burned down just months after it opened. A second collection was made to build it again, from a slightly modified design, and it reopened in 1883.