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 Vyšehrad was the location of the first settlement which later became Prague, though thus far this claim remains unsubstantiated.
When the PÅ™emyslid 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 SobÄ›slav 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 PodÄ›brady. 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 incorporated into the Baroque era city walls around Prague.
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 ŠpiÄka Gate, parts of the Romanesque bridge, and the ruined Gothic lookout tower known as Libušina lázeÅˆ (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.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.