The Chapel of the Three Kings, in the east wing of the castle, is located in a structure that was originally a form of tower protruding outward into the zwinger (the outer courtyard) of the castle. The chapel was built at the end of the 15th or the beginning of the 16th century for William of Pernštejn.
The interior of the chapel has recently undergone a thorough and very challenging restoration (completed in 2013). The neo-Gothic altar (designed in the 19th century by František Schmoranz) has been completely restored, as has its painting – a depiction of the Adoration of the Three Kings dating from the first half of the 18th century.
Two statues of Bohemian saints (St. Wenceslas and St. Ludmila) dating from the second half of the 18th century have also been restored. During the restoration of the statues – which are located in arch-shaped niches on either side of the painting – the restorers Hana Vítová and Dušan Rohlík made a surprising discovery; under the faded green-grey outer layer of paint they found beautifully preserved polychrome paintwork. Polychrome paint was also restored on a large figure of the crucified Christ dating from the second half of the 18th century, positioned on a pillar under the choir. The two impressive Rococo side altars – depicting the saints John of Nepomuk and Charles Borromeo – have also been restored to their former glory. They are flanked by exceptionally ornate carved and gilded Rococo ornamentation and naturalistic depictions of cherubic figures.
The overall composition of the altars in the chapel is complemented by two newly installed works with a monumental and dramatic character – polychrome sculptures depicting large angels on clouds. They most likely originated in the workshop of Ignác Rohrbach, one of the most important master sculptors in Bohemia during the Baroque era and a successor of Matyáš Bernard Braun.
Although it has been agreed with the Pardubice Deanery that the chapel will not be consecrated for religious purposes, this is still a beautiful and attractive religious space. Alongside the three knights’ halls that were built two centuries before the chapel (with their impressive murals), it ranks among the most valuable gems at the Pardubice castle.
THE Pernštejn CHEST
The cellar underneath the chapel is home to the Pernštejn chest – the only surviving part of the castle’s original late Gothic furnishings. This intricate medieval chest was used to store valuable items, gold, and the castle’s most important documents – treaties, contracts and so on. It was designed to hold hundreds of kilograms of gold and silver. Access from the chapel is via a narrow spiral staircase leading downwards into the cellars, guarded by several doors with strong locks. The chest itself is protected by latches and mechanical locks, and it was placed under the chapel in order to deter potential thieves. Thanks to the unique climate inside the cellars, the chest has been preserved intact for 500 years. Today it is empty, but it is still very valuable; it is the largest and oldest chest of its kind in the whole of Bohemia.