National Cultural Monuments of the Czech Republic

Vysehrad

Vyšehrad ('upper castle') is a historical fort 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. It also contains Prague's oldest surviving building, the Rotunda of St Martin from the 11th century. Local legend holds that Vy& ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Historic Centre of Telc

Telč is situated at the south-west tip of Moravia, half-way between Prague and Vienna. According to legend the foundation of the city is associated with the victory of the Moravian Prince Otto II over the Bohemian King Břetislav in 1099. It was this victory that meant the building of a chapel, later to become a church, and a settlement which forms today’s Old Town. The city saw its greatest period of expa ...
Founded: c. 1099 | Location: Telč, Czech Republic

Saint James' Church

Saint James' church was founded for German inhabitants who lived in this part of Brno in the 13th century. There is visible the painted heraldry of mother superior from Oslavany Cistercian monastery with the date 1220 on the vault of the presbytery. This date recalls the consecration of the smaller Romanesque church that once stood here before this late Gothic St. James's church and it used to serve Flemish and German col ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Brno, Czech Republic

St. Bartholomew Cathedral

The cathedral of St. Bartholomew is a Gothic church located on the Main Square in Plzeň. It was probably established together with the city around the year 1295. The church became a cathedral in 1993, when the Pilsner diocese was created. The exact date of the start of its construction is not known, but the oldest extant allusion comes from the year 1307, when the townsman Wolfram Zwinillinger bequeathed the malt an ...
Founded: 1295 | Location: Plzeň, Czech Republic

Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul

The Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul is one of the dominating features of the city of Brno. The origins of the church on Petrov dates back to the 1170s. In the Gothic period the church was rebuilt several times. In one of the reconstructions, around 1500, the original consecration to St. Peter was added to by the consecration to St. Paul. In 1296 a collegiate chapter was established at the church. During the Thirty Years&r ...
Founded: 1170s/1743 | Location: Brno, Czech Republic

Holy Trinity Column

The Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc is a Baroque monument built in 1716–1754 in honour of God. The main purpose was a spectacular celebration of Catholic Church and faith, partly caused by feeling of gratitude for ending a plague, which struck Moravia between 1713 and 1715. The column was also understood to be an expression of local patriotism, since all artists and master craftsmen working on this monument were Olom ...
Founded: 1716-1754 | Location: Olomouc, Czech Republic

Karlstejn Castle

Karlštejn Castle is a large Gothic castle founded 1348 by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor-elect and King of Bohemia. The castle served as a place for safekeeping the Imperial Regalia as well as the Bohemian/Czech crown jewels, holy relics, and other royal treasures. It is one of the most famous and most frequently visited castles in the Czech Republic. Founded in 1348, the construction works were directed by the la ...
Founded: 1348 | Location: Karlštejn, Czech Republic

Spilberk Castle

For over seven centuries, Špilberk Castle has dominated the skyline of Brno. From a major royal castle and the seat of the Moravian margraves, it gradually turned into a huge baroque fortress, the heaviest prison in the Austro-Hungarian empire, and then a barracks. Today, Špilberk houses the Brno City Museum. The castle was established in the mid-13th century by Czech King Přemysl Otakar II as a seat f ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Brno, Czech Republic

Lednice Castle

The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249. At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Membe ...
Founded: 1846-1858 | Location: Lednice, Czech Republic

Italian Court

The Italian Court is a palace in Kutná Hora. Originally, it was the seat of the Central Mint of Prague, named after the Italian experts who were at the forefront of the minting reform. After its reconstruction at the end of the 14th century, the Italian Court became a part-time royal residence. For many centuries, the Italian Court was the centre of the state economic power: it contained the royal mint and was the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kutná Hora, Czech Republic

St. Maurice Church

St. Maurice Church is one the most precious buildings of the late Gothic style in Moravia. The three-naved structure has a cross vaulting dating from the middle of the 14th century. A more advanced net vault may be seen in the presbytery. Two asymmetric prismatic towers were built on the western facade. In the western part of the church there is a unique double spiral staircase. The real gem is the late Gothic sculpture ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Olomouc, Czech Republic

Church of Our Lady

The Church of the Assumption of Our Lady and Saint John the Baptist is a Gothic and Baroque Gothic church in Kutná Hora. It is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List together with the Chapel of All Saints and its ossuary and other monuments in Kutná Hora. It is one of the most important Czech Gothic buildings built in the time of the very last Přemyslids and also a very important and one of the oldest examples of the ...
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Kutná Hora, Czech Republic

Litomysl Castle

The East Bohemian town of Litomyšl emerged in the 13th century on the site of an older fortified settlement on the Trstenice path - an important trading route linking Bohemia and Moravia. The dominant feature of Litomysl is the monumental Renaissance castle dating from the years 1568 - 1581. The buildings of the castle precincts are not only exceptional for their architectural refinement, but have also inscribed t ...
Founded: 1568-1581 | Location: Litomyšl, Czech Republic

Valtice Castle

The Chateau Valtice belonged to Liechtenstein family from 1387 until 1945. There is one hundred impressive rooms in the four-wing building of the Chateau Valtice. The tour of the Baroque residence, surrounding park and a wine bar in the neighborhood takes at least half a day, and it is accessible only seventeen rooms! The furniture is in the Baroque and Rococo style and it creates a perfect imagine of a life of the rich n ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Valtice, Czech Republic

Hluboká Castle

Hluboká Castle (Schloss Frauenberg) is considered one of the most beautiful castles in the Czech Republic. In the second half of the 13th century, a Gothic castle was built at the site. During its history, the castle was rebuilt several times. It was first expanded during the Renaissance period, then rebuilt into a Baroque castle at the order of Adam Franz von Schwarzenberg in the beginning of the 18th century. It reache ...
Founded: 1840-1871 | Location: Hluboká nad Vltavou, Czech Republic

Villa Tugendhat

The Tugendhat Villa in Brno, designed by the architect Mies van der Rohe, is an outstanding example of the international style in the modern movement in architecture as it developed in Europe in the 1920s. Its particular value lies in the application of innovative spatial and aesthetic concepts that aim to satisfy new lifestyle needs by taking advantage of the opportunities afforded by modern industrial production. The vi ...
Founded: 1928-1930 | Location: Brno, Czech Republic

Emmaus Monastery

The Emmaus monastery is an abbey established in 1347 in Prague. The area became the only Benedictine monastery of the Bohemian kingdom and all Slavic Europe. In the 1360s, the Cloisters of the Monastery were decorated with a cycle of 85 wall Gothic paintings with parallels from the Old and New Testaments. The Gothic cloisters also feature original faded frescoes with bits of Pagan symbolism from the 14th century. The mon ...
Founded: 1347 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Krivoklát Castle

Křivoklát Castle was founded in the 12th century, belonging to the kings of Bohemia. During the reign of Přemysl Otakar II a large, monumental royal castle was built, later rebuilt by king Václav IV and later enlarged by king Vladislav of Jagellon. The castle was damaged by fire several times. It was turned into a harsh prison and the building slowly deteriorated. During the 19th century, the fami ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Křivoklát, Czech Republic

Brevnov Monastery

Břevnov Monastery is a Benedictine archabbey founded by Saint Adalbert, the second Bishop of Prague, in 993 AD with the support of Duke Boleslav II of Bohemia. Hence the first Benedictine male monastery in Bohemia, it also has the oldest tradition of beer brewing in the Czech Republic, up to today, the Břevnovský Benedict beer is brewed here. The first monks descended form Niederaltaich Abbey in Bavaria, ...
Founded: 993 AD | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Konopiste Palace

Konopiště is a palace, which become famous as the last residence of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir of the Austro-Hungarian throne, whose assassination in Sarajevo triggered World War I. The bullet that killed him, fired by Gavrilo Princip, is now an exhibit at the castle"s museum. The castle was apparently established in the 1280s by Prague Bishop Tobiaš as a Gothic fortification with a ...
Founded: 1280s | Location: Benešov, Czech Republic

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.