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Vysehrad /Vyšehrad/Prague

Vysehrad Description

Vyšehrad (Czech for "upper castle") is a historic fort located in the city of Prague, Czech Republic, just over 3 km southeast of Prague Castle, on the right bank of the Vltava River. It was built probably in the 10th century. Situated within the fort 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 Prague's oldest Rotunda of St. Martin from the 11th century.

History

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

When the Přemyslid dynasty settled on the current site of Prague Castle, the two castles maintained opposing spheres of influence for approximately two centuries. The zenith of Vyšehrad was during the second half of the 11th century, when Vratislav transferred his seat from Prague Castle to Vyšehrad, and the original fort was remodelled as a complex comprising the sovereign's palatial residence, a church, and the 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 Vyšehrad was abandoned as a royal seat. Later the whole complex was renewed by Charles IV and new fortifications, with two gates and a royal palace were built, while the Basilica 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 centre for the Austrian Army, and later incorporating it into the Baroque city walls.

The 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 Basilica 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 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.

Statues

  • Josef Václav Myslbek's statues south of the church, originally from Palacký Bridge
    • Libuše and Přemysl – mythical Czech rulers settled in the 8th century at Vyšehrad
    • Ctirad and Šárka – the characters of the Maidens' War, when women after the death of Libuše built the castle Děvín lying on the opposite hill of the Vyšehrad
    • Lumír and Píseň – Lumír was a legendary famous singer who refused to sing celebration song after the Maidens' War ended to the winning men and instead of it sang about the famous Vyšehrad
    • Záboj and Slavoj – leaders of the rebellion against invasion of the German troops of Charlemagne, allegedly led the victorious battle in 805
  • Statue of Mikuláš Karlach, Karlach's sets
  • Statue of Saint Wenceslas by Johann Georg Bendl, northwest bastion
  • Bust of Václav Štulc, near Nové proboštství building

See also

  • Battle of Vyšehrad
  • Libuše
  • Má vlast (symphonic poem by Smetana including a movement Vyšehrad)
  • Church of Our Lady on the Lawn

Photos

  • Vysehrad
  • Vysehrad
  • Vysehrad

Contact information

  • Address: V Pevnosti 159/5b, Prague,
    128 00, Czech Republic
  • GPS: 50° 3.845 N 14° 25.192 E
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