Vyšehrad cemetery – glory of Czech past

Vyšehrad is beautiful place on the border of old Prague, deeply connected with our history, important place but a bit out of the beaten track, so tourists don’t visit it that often. I like the peaceful atmosphere there and I am sure, there is “something in the air”, that makes the place so magic. Czech kings lived there, our oldest legends happen there … but at this my post I will focus on Vyšehrad cemetery, which is not just a cemetary of famous Czech people, but also a big art collection.

Tábor gate from 17 century, the main entrance to fortified Vyšehrad area


During Czech national revival in about 1880 the idea came to collect remains of important people of the nation to one honourable place and Vyšehrad was the first and last choice, as the place has a long history and importancy. There were built new porticos in neo-renaisance style around the original cemetary, with beautiful decorations, reliefs and statues as gravestones. The area of the cemetary is 80 hectares. Vyšehrad cemetery became a pilgrim place not only for Prague inhabitants, and it is not surprise that the Velvet revolution in 1989 started there as well, as students were at Vyšehrad to dignify the memory of student Jan Opletal and then they went to city center and … but we are not here to talk about revolution :-).

Details of the porticos

Slavín crypt

Most important tombstone is a monumental crypt called Slavín (Sláva = Fame). This crypt was built during 1889-1893, by the fellowship called Svatobor, as a burial place for the most important Czechs in terms of culture life with emphasis to the nation. The architect was Antonín Wiehl. Crypt is done from granit, on the top of it is an Angel called Prodigy Of The Country, statue on the left side is Mourning Country, on the right Country Victorious. First 15 people burried at the place are on the sign in the middle, but in fact at this moment I don’t know 7 names out of the 15, so it gives me a question, would the today fame mean that my name would be honoured forever?

Thombstones with woman statue from reputable Czech sculptor Olbram Zoubek

At the cemetery you can also find graves, that are symbolical, as for example my very favorite painter Josef Čapek (brother of excellent Czech writer Karel Čapek), who died at the end of WWII at concentration camp and his body is lost somewhere in mass grave, so on his symbolic grave is written “there would be resting Josef Čapek, painter and poet”.

Gravestone of Karel Čapek on the left, in the shape of border stone, symbolic grave of Josef Čapek on the right

And now let’s take a short walk between the graves in the peaceful atmosphere, remembering big names from our history.

Mikoláš Aleš, painter from the end of 19 century; when visiting Prague you will find 3 buildings in Prague decorated with his paintings

Josef Rösler Ořovský, sportsman, who brought ski to our country in 1887, first they ski with his brother in Wenceslass square in the center of Prague (yes, we have snow there during winter)

Hands of Vlasta Burian, brilliant Czech actor, comic, entertainer, but also goal-keeper, from the first half of 20 century

Josef “Pepi” Bican, the best Czech football (soccer) player, active career from 1937 to 1955

One of the newest, Czech singer Waldemar Matuška, emigrated from Czech republic in 1980, lived in US

Final gravestone belong to the member of Svatobor fellowship, recognizable by three hands holding the circle at the top of the memorial.

Svatobor gravestone

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tales and Travels of the Tin Man
    Nov 22, 2012 @ 17:52:04

    Would that we had known of you when we visited Prague. We had such a dreadful visit that we left after one day.


  2. Where's Wiwi?
    Nov 23, 2012 @ 10:01:50

    I have been to Prague but only for a day or 2, it would be great to go for longer to really explore. Great photos!


    • PragueByKaty
      Nov 23, 2012 @ 10:41:56

      For Prague you need minimum 3 days, just for Prague itself, but I would recommend to visit at least it’s surroundings, as Kutná Hora, Karlštejn, futher Český Krumlov and lot of other beautiful places. Looking forward to meet you when you are here again :-).


  3. travelgardeneat
    Nov 25, 2012 @ 08:04:08

    You can sense that “magic in the air” from your photos! ~ Kat


    • PragueByKaty
      Nov 25, 2012 @ 09:21:52

      And that was only the cemetary, and not the whole area around with big statues, beautiful views to all Prague, park and mainly the big baroque ramparts. 🙂 Thanks


  4. The Wanderlust Gene
    Nov 26, 2012 @ 09:27:37

    It’s so interesting, in old cities, how cemeteries are like history parks 🙂


  5. Kim Arrington
    Nov 26, 2012 @ 16:48:13

    I would love to come over there and visit my ancestors’ home country. My great grandmother was 18 and by herself when she got on a ship from Prague and sailed to America. One day I will make it to Prague to see where my ancestors lived and grew up.


  6. Lynne Ayers
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 17:12:40

    Not just your ordinary cemetery, Katy. As Wanderlust said – a history park. Not being able to read the markings would be a bit frustrating when seeing all these beautiful and creative headstones – maybe I should study the Czech language before I visit 😉


  7. Amy
    Nov 29, 2012 @ 20:27:58

    I agree with Lynne, it’s a history park. Thank you for the wonderful post. We were able to spend 3 and half days in Prague this summer. 🙂


  8. Trackback: Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures « PragueByKaty
  9. Trackback: Winter Walks (2) – Vysehrad | PragueByKaty

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