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 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.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 10th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Czech Republic

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Calvin Zito (2 years ago)
This was a castle recommended by locals because it isn't the one that gets tons of tourists. While it was late December when I visited, there weren't hordes of people and that was nice. Lots of great views of the Prague from here and some of the history I read of the castle was interesting.
Dusko Stankovic (2 years ago)
Amazing place!!! You should definitely visit it, especially during the summer time when the weather is good and it is not that much cloudy so that you can enjoy the great view over the city. If you are visiting the city of Prague even for only one day, visit this place and you will have great memories!
Vlad Schnakovszki (2 years ago)
Brilliant park in Prague. I strongly recommend you find the Na Hradbách pub, get a beer and a portion of pickled cheese and go outside to enjoy the sun and the views. Thank you Honest Guide for recommending it, it's amazing.
Nicholaos Bilalis (2 years ago)
This is an excellent place to visit, when in Prague. It's less known than other attractions, like the Prague castle, therefore less crowded. It's a fortified castle, with an excellent view of the city, and the area inside it is essentially a big park. We visited in December, but in spring time this should be a must. There is also a museum, a basilica and a very stunning (and famous as it turns out) cemetary.
Tony Elkin (3 years ago)
Excellent place for walking or jogging, or sitting and talking. The old fortified walls have paved paths atop them. Views of Prague from here are unique, across the river you get a sense of perspective.... cafes and restaurants on site and toilets...., or take your own food with you, no problem. Easy walk from red line metro..
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.