Public collection launched to rebuild the burned wooden Church of St. Michael in Prague

A fire on October 28 virtually destroyed the 17th century church that was moved from what is now Ukraine

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 05.11.2020 12:03 (updated on 05.11.2020)

People can now donate to help the restoration of the wooden Church of St. Michael, which was destroyed in an October 28 fire in Prague’s Kinský Garden.

The fire burned the most of the structure, including its three towers and heavily damaged the main meeting room. The church is owned by the city of Prague, and has been used by the Orthodox Church for several decades.

Prague immediately began negotiations concerning the repair of the church and the possibility of a public collection for its restoration, which will last one year. The creation of the collection has been approved by the Czech Interior Ministry.

People can now send their contributions to the transparent bank account 500089822/0800. The collection will last for a full year.

The city also started to coordinate the restoration of the church. Assistance was immediately offered by the National Museum, the National Heritage Institute (NPÚ) and the Czech Culture Ministry.

City Councilor Hana Třeštíková (Praha sobě), responsible for culture and tourism, launched the idea for a public collection immediately after the fire. On November 3 she led a meeting of experts on the restoration of the church. The directors of the National Museum and the NPÚ, and representatives from the Culture Ministry and the Municipal Department of Culture and the Department of Property participated.

“The good news is that the National Museum has much more information about the construction of the church than we expected. Photographs, documentation of the dismantling of the church and its reassembly, as well as partial documentation of the interior will be very helpful during the restoration. The public collection will enable all of us who care about the wooden church to participate in its restoration,” Třeštíková said.

City Councilor Jan Chabr (United Force for Prague), responsible for city property, said he was pleased with the quick response. “The place of the fire has been secured and now we have to take steps to protect the building from external influences such as rain and frost, so that there is no further irreversible damage,” he added.

Church of St. Michael before and after
Church of St. Michael before and after / via HZS ČR

The church was virtually destroyed by fire. According to estimates, the damage is in the order of several million crowns. The city will claim the damage as an insured event. Movable things such as church equipment are owned by the Orthodox Church, which should have its own insurance for them.

The wooden church was made in the second half of the 17th century. It originally stood in the village of Velké Loučky in what is now Ukraine, but was part of Czechoslovakia before World War II. The structure was dismantled, transported and rebuilt in Prague in 1929.

The church was built in the so-called Boykov style with elements of folk baroque. It was 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 a gift from the Ruthenians to their then-capital Prague. 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 National Theatre in Prague, which opened in 1881, was built after public collection. The theatre burned down just months after it opened. A second collection was made to rebuild it, and it reopened in 1883.