Top historic sites in Prague

Rotunda of the Holy Cross

The Rotunda of the Holy Cross is the oldest Romanesque rotunda in Prague. It was built in the 11th century. The first mention of the Rotunda of the Holy Cross is from 1365, but it was probably built already at the end of the 11th century. It is a small simple building with a rounded nave and an apse. A lantern at the cupola has a gilt cross, a crescent moon and an eight-pointed star at the top. Rotunda of the Holy Cross ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Strahov Monastery

After his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1138, Bishop of Olomouc Jindrich Zdík had the idea of establishing a monastery of canons regular in Prague. With assistance from the Prague rulers and bishops, a monastery was set up in a place called Strahov, but failed to prosper. It was not until 1143, when Premonstratensians from their house od Steinfeld in the Rhineland arrived in Strahov, that the life of the monastic ...
Founded: 1143 | Location: Prague, 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

Loreta

Loreta is a large pilgrimage destination in Hradčany, a district of Prague. It consists of a cloister, the church of the Lord’s Birth, a Holy Hut and the clock tower with a famous chime. The construction had started in 1626 and the Holy Hut was blessed on March 25, 1631. The architect was the Italian Giovanni Orsi; the project was financed by a noblewoman Kateřina Benigna of the Lobkowicz family. Fifty ye ...
Founded: 1626 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

St. Martin Rotunda

The rotunda of St. Martin is the largest and oldest preserved rotunda in Prague. It was built in the second half of the 11th century. It has escaped demolition several times in its history. During the Thirty Years’ War it was used as a gunpowder store. The cannonball embedded in the façade to the right of the window is a reminder of the Prussian rampage in 1757. The rotunda is now used for religious purposes ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Prague, 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

Straka Academy

The Straka Academy is the seat of the Government of the Czech Republic. It is a Neo-baroque building situated on the left bank of Vltava river. It was designed by the architect Václav Roštlapil and built between 1891 and 1896. The building originally served as a dormitory for impoverished children of the Czech nobility.
Founded: 1891-1896 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Olsany Cemetery

Olšany Cemeteries is the largest graveyard in Prague, once having as many as two million burials. The graveyard is particularly noted for its many remarkable art nouveau monuments. The cemeteries were created in 1680 to accommodate plague victims who died en masse in Prague and needed to be buried quickly. In 1787, when the plague again struck the city, Emperor Joseph II banned the burial of bodies within Prague ...
Founded: 1680 | Location: Prague, Czech Republic

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.