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Coronation jewels of Charles IV. and the story of Jozef Gabčík

The Czech coronation jewels of Charles IV in Rajecké Teplice and the story of a native, Jozef Gabčík

The Czech coronation jewels of Charles IV. in Rajecké Teplice

The safety box in Veľká Fatra hotel in Rajecké Teplice (currently Cabaret Aphrodite) was used in Autumn 1938 to hide the coronation jewels of the Czech kings and keep them safe from German agents. Amidst the dispute over the Sudety Mountains and risk of Prague being bombed, President Beneš ordered the coronation jewels to be transported to a secret place. The St. Wenceslas crown, sceptre, apple, cross, robe, sword and other golden valuables were transported by two trucks from Prague on September 19, 1938. The following day, František Koupil, the president of the branch of the Czechoslovak National Bank in Žilina, took the coronation jewels over in Žilina. The valuable jewels were transported and hidden in the Veľká Fatra Hotel’s safe in Rajecké Teplice. They were placed in a separate room (currently Cabaret Aphrodite) in Veľká Fatra Hotel.
Only the presidential office and the bank's top management knew about this top-secret mission. Until today, most Slovaks and Czechs had no idea that the Czech national treasure once left Prague Castle. Never forget the jewels ended up in our spa in the Aphrodite Palace hotel’s safe for a while.

Royal insignia of the Czech Kingdom

Czech crown - Crown of Saint Wenceslas

The crown was forged on the order of Charles IV, prior to 1346.
It contains 19 sapphires, 45 spinels, 25 emeralds and 20 pearls. Its centre is decorated with a metal band (called  a “camara”) made of a belt owned by Bianca de Valois, the first wife of Charles IV. The bright green emeralds were obtained in old mines located in southeastern Egypt. At the top of the crown, there is a cross with an inserted sapphire engraved with the crucified Christ. The inscription reads: HIC EST SPINA DE CORONA DOMINI - here is a thorn from the crown of the Lord.

Royal Apple

The 22 cm tall original is made of 18-carat gold. It weighs 780 g. Decorated by embossing. Relief works in the top half show episodes from King David’s life - David’s coronation and David’s fight against Goliath. The bottom half shows scenes from the Book of Genesis - Adam bending his knee in front of God, Adam entering Eden, God warning the first humans to avoid eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The Royal Apple is topped by a cross decorated by jewellery, enamel and gems.  The Royal Apple is decorated with 8 sapphires, 6 spinels and 31 pearls. The inscription on the rear of the cross reads: DEUS CELUS REGNAT ET REGES TERRE - God rules over Heaven and kings over earth. There is a circular inscription under the cross: DOMINE IN VIRTUTE TUA LETABITUR REX ET SUPER SALUTARE TUAM EXULTABIT - Lord, the king rejoices at your power and praises your help.


The 67 cm high original is made of 18-carat gold. It weighs 1013 g. Decorated by jewellery, enamel and relief work. The sceptre is decorated with 4 sapphires, 5 spinels and 62 pearls. The sceptre and the apple were produced in the second quarter of the Sixteenth Century.

The legend of the curse

A treaty which later ruined Czechoslovakia and gave rise to the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the Slovak State was signed in Žilina in 1938. The Czech government took immediate action and moved the coronation jewels back to the President’s office at Prague Castle. Back in 1941, at Prague Castle, President Emil Hácha offered the Czech coronation jewels to the third most powerful representative of Germany, Reinhard Heydrich. 
Blinded by power, Heydrich could not resist the temptation and placed the crown on his head when the guards weren´t looking for. Legend has it, this moment of presumption sealed Heydrich’s fate. The curse came true. Those unworthy who put the crown on their heads will die an unnatural death within a year.

The story of Rajecké Teplice native, Jozef Gabčík

Jozef was born on April 8, 1912 in Poluvsie (currently a district of Rajecké Teplice). He was recruited for military service on October 1, 1932. He joined the Czechoslovak army in Krakow in 1939 and met Jan Kubiš. Gabčík was evacuated to the United Kingdom in 1940 and trained for special missions. He attended special training for military parachutists and military reporters and landed 10 km from Prague, the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, during the night on December 28, 1941. His mission was to accomplish Operation Anthropoid - an attempt on the life of the Reich Protector of Bohemia, Reinhard Heydrich.
At 10:30 on May 27, 1942, Heydrich was travelling from his residence at the castle in Panenské Břežany to Hradčany, the Castle District in Prague. Gabčík and Kubiš had been waiting next to the tram stop on Kirchmayer Street. It was just about time... Gabčík and Kubiš put their bicycles aside and prepared. Heydrich’s unarmoured cabriolet was coming down Kirchmayer Street. Gabčík stepped out but his sniper rifle didn't fire because of a bullet jam. Heydrich and the cabriolet driver shouted at Gabčík. Kubiš threw a bomb at the vehicle. The bomb exploded, Kubiš covered his injured face and fled from the scene using a bicycle to escape. Heydrich’s driver chased Gabčík. Heydrich, in agony, was left in the vehicle. His injuries resulted in his death a couple of days later. The curse had been fulfilled.
On June 18, 1942, the Nazis seized the Church of Saint Charles Borromeo in Prague. Seven hundred Nazi soldiers outnumbered the seven military parachutists. These brave men hidden in the underground crypt refused to give up and committed suicide. They kept their last bullets for themselves. Their names were Jozef Gabčík, Jan Kubiš, Adolf Opálka, Josef Bublík, Jaroslav Švarc, Josef Valčík, and Jan Hrubý.  

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