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Vysehrad Castle Bridge
Vysehrad Castle

Vyšehrad (Czech for "upper castle") is a historic fort located in the city of Prague, Czech Republic. It was built, probably in the 10th century, on a hill over the Vltava River. Situated within the castle is the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, as well as the Vyšehrad Cemetery, containing the remains of many famous people from Czech history, among them Antonín Dvořák, Bedřich Smetana, Karel Čapek, and Alphonse Mucha. It also contains one of Prague's oldest surviving buildings, the Rotunda of St. Martin from the 11th century. The oldest buildings in Prague are located within Prague Castle. The Basilica St. Martin, which was built from 900-950, and the Church of the Virgin Mary, which was built in the year 870.

Local legend holds that Vyšehrad was the location of the first settlement which later became Prague, though thus far this claim remains unsubstantiated.

Premyslid DynastyWhen the Přemyslid dynasty settled on the current site of Prague Castle, the two castles maintained opposing spheres of influence for approximately two centuries. Like this the second seat of the Czech sovereigns was established on a steep rock directly above the right bank of the Vltava river, in the 10th century. The zenith of Vyšehrad was during the second half of the 11th century, when Vratislav transferred his seat from Prague Castle, and the original fort was remodelled as a complex comprising a sovereign's palatial residence, church and seat of the chapter. The period of growth ended around 1140 when Prince Soběslav moved his seat back to Prague Castle.

When Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV began to build the Prague Castle in its current dimensions in the early 14th century, the deteriorating castle Vyšehrad was abandoned as a royal home. Later the whole complex was renewed by Charles IV and new fortifications, with two gates and a royal palace were built, while the palace of Saints Peter and Paul awaited repair. At the beginning of the Hussite Wars, Vyšehrad was conquered and ransacked by the Hussites in 1420 and then again in 1448 by the troops of King George of Poděbrady. The castle was then abandoned and became ruined. It underwent a renovation in the 17th century, when the Habsburg Monarchy took over the Czech lands after the Thirty Years' War and remodelled it in 1654 as a Baroque fortress, turning it into a training center for the Austrian Army, and later incorporated into the Baroque era city walls around Prague.

Prague 2 Coat of ArmsThe present form of Vyšehrad as a fortified residence, with powerful brick ramparts, bastions and the Tábor and Leopold gates, is a result of Baroque remodelling. The Cihelná brána (Brick gate) is an Empire-style structure, dating from 1841. The main part of the Špička Gate, parts of the Romanesque bridge, and the ruined Gothic lookout tower known as Libušina lázeň (Libuše's Bath) are the only fragments that have been preserved from the Middle Ages. The Romanesque rotunda of St. Martin dates from the second half of the 11th century. The 11th century of Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, which dominates Vyšehrad, was remodelled in the second half of the 14th century and again in 1885 and 1887 in the Neo-gothic style. Vyšehrad and the area around it became part of the capital city in 1883. The area is one of the cadastral districts of the city.

By the twenty-first century, Vyšehrad has become a public park that is a popular site for recreation and celebrations. For example, it is a popular place for Czechs to celebrate New Year's Eve.

 

Libuše & Přemysl

In 2009, an American-Czech film version of the Libuše and Přemysl story was released under the name The Pagan Queen.

Libuše, Libussa, Libushe or, historically Lubossa, is a legendary ancestor of the Přemyslid dynasty and the Czech people as a whole. According to legend, she was the youngest but wisest of three sisters, who became queen after their father died; she married a plowman, Přemysl, with whom she founded the Přemyslid dynasty, and prophesied and founded the city of Prague in the 8th century.

Libuše is said to have been the youngest daughter of the equally mythical Czech ruler Krok. The legend goes that she was the wisest of the three sisters, and while her sister Kazi was a healer and Teta was a magician, she had the gift of seeing the future, and was chosen by her father as his successor, to judge over the people. According to legends she prophesied from her castle at Libušín, though later legends say it was Vyšehrad.

Legend says that Libuše came out on a rocky cliff high above the Vltava and prophesied: "I see a great city whose glory will touch the stars." On the site she ordered to build a castle and a town called Prague.

Although she proved herself as a wise chieftain, the male part of the tribe was displeased that their ruler was a woman and demanded that she marry, but she had fallen in love with a plowman, Přemysl. She therefore related a vision in which she saw a farmer with one broken sandal, plowing a field, or in other versions of the legend, eating from an iron table. She instructed her councilmen to seek out this man by letting a horse loose at a junction; they followed it to the village of Stadice and found Přemysl exactly as she had said (either plowing a field, or using an iron plow as a makeshift table). The two grandees who found Přemysl brought him to the princely palace where Libuše married him, and Přemysl the Ploughman thus became ruler. They went on to have three sons: Radobyl, Lidomir, and Nezamysl who continued the Přemyslid dynasty in the Czech lands.

In another legend, she commanded her councillors to found a city at the place where they found a man making the best of use of his teeth at midday. They set off and at midday found a man sawing a block of wood (using his saw's teeth) when everyone else was eating; when they asked him what he was making he replied "Prah" (which in Czech means "threshold") and so Libuše named the city Prague (Czech: "Praha").

Josef Mathauser - Libuse
Holmstad Libuse Princess 2014

 

The Battle of Vyšehrad

The Battle of Vyšehrad was a series of engagements at the start of the Hussite War between Hussite forces and Catholic crusaders sent by Emperor Sigismund. The battle took place at the castle of Vyšehrad from 16 August 1419 to c. 1 November 1420.

 

The Gothic Church of Our Lady on the Lawn

The Gothic Church of Our Lady on the Lawn (Na Slupi) is located in the valley of the Prague Botič Stream below Vyšehrad in the New Town. It is quite a small Gothic building which was built beside the monastery of Servites. The church is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. The church and the monastery have been listed as historical monuments since 1958. The church was founded 24 March 1360 by Charles IV. and was built between 1360 and 1375. Its current look is mostly in pseudo-Gothic.

The order of Servites or the order of servants of the Virgin Mary was created in the 13th century and their goal was unlimited respect to the Virgin Mary. According to tradition the apparition happened in 1233 on the day of Ascension. The apparition influenced the seven Florentines who gave up their existing lives and went to Monte Senario where they founded a monastery. The Servite Order showed up in Prague for the first time in 1360.

The legend says that King Charles IV promised in front of the painting in the Florentine monastery of Servites that he would build a monastery for this order in the Czech lands as thanks for his cure. Another possible impulse for founding the monastery could have been an effort to reinforce the deteriorating religious life in Bohemia and above all in Prague in the second half of the 14th century. Charles IV asked pope Innocent VI for permission to set up a new monastery in Prague in 1359 and was granted permission. The monastery was founded in 1360 and the construction of the church started immediately. According to Beneš of Weitmile (the chronicler) the church was established next to the older chapel of the Virgin Mary.

 

Vyšehrad Cemetery

Established in 1869 on the grounds of Vyšehrad Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, the Vyšehrad cemetery (Czech: Vyšehradský hřbitov) is the final resting place of many composers, artists, sculptors, writers, and those from the world of science and politics. The centerpiece of the cemetery is the Slavín tomb designed by Antonín Wiehl, a large and notable tomb located within Vyšehrad cemetery.

Alphonse Mucha, Jan Neruda, and Bedřich Smetana are buried here.

 

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