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The Vyšehrad on the Vltava

The Vyšehrad on the Vltava

Creation time : 10th century
Conservation status: receive
Place: Prague
Geographical location 50 ° 3 '50 "  N , 14 ° 25' 12"  E Coordinates: 50 ° 3 '50 "  N , 14 ° 25' 12"  E
Vyšehrad (Czech Republic)

The Vyšehrad (German: Wyschehrad , also Prague stronghold ) is one of the most famous early medieval castle walls in Bohemia . Located just south of the New Town on a hill, which is located at the mouth of the Botič cliff above the right bank of the Vltava (Vltava) rises. Founded as the second Prague castle of the Přemyslids in the 10th century, it was expanded several times in the Romanesque and Gothic periods . However, the current shape is largely determined by the conversion to a baroque fortress . Inside the castle are the Church of St. Peter and Paul and the Vyšehrad Cemetery , where numerous artists, scientists and politicians are buried.


Foundation and first bloom in the 10th and 11th centuries

Přemysl and Libuše
by Josef V. Myslbek

Vyšehrad was founded in the first half of the 10th century south of Prague Castle on the opposite side of the Vltava River as the second Přemyslid castle . It was probably originally called Chrasten. According to an old legend, the rock on the Vltava is said to have been the seat of the first Czech rulers, especially the legendary Princess Libussa (Libuše), the ancestral mother of the Czechs , who foresaw the founding of Prague in a vision here and foretold the city's great future . Due to the extensive archaeological research, it is certain that this complex is a little younger than the castle on the Hradschin and was only settled and fortified in the first half of the 10th century. A mint existed here from the end of the 980s and the 990s, and denarii from various princes, especially Boleslav II , were minted with the inscription “VISEGRAD”, the “High Castle”.

The prince and first Bohemian king Vratislav II moved his residence from Prague Castle to Vyšehrad around 1070, probably due to power disputes with his brother Bishop Jaromír . Vratislav founded the Vyšehrad Collegiate Chapter of St. Peter and Paul here , which quickly developed into an important educational center. The Codex Wyssegradensis , the coronation gospel of Vratislav II, comes from the year 1085 and represents one of the oldest known Romanesque book illuminations. At the end of the 11th century, in addition to the church and the monastery buildings, the stone Romanesque residential building (“ Palas ”) Vratislav was built. The St. Laurentius Basilica and St. Martin's Rotunda were also built.

Remains of the Romanesque bridge

Under Prince Soběslav I (1123–1140) there was once again major construction activity, but the ruler only returned to Prague Castle at the end of his reign or only his successor Vladislav II (1140–1172). After around 70 years of government activity by the Přemyslids, the castle gradually fell into disrepair.

In contrast, the spiritual institutions, above all the collegiate monastery, continued to exist. The immunity district of the chapter included the Chapter Church, Chapter building, provost of the St. Clement's Chapel, deanery with the St. Lawrence Church, Chapter School and several canons' courts (curiae).

The expansion under Charles IV in the second half of the 14th century

The mountain experienced a renewed upswing under Charles IV. The reason for this was not only the favorable fortification connection to the fortifications of the New Town of Prague , but also the reference to St. Wenceslas and the Přemyslids, which Karl emphasized again and again. The castle was the last seat of his mother, Queen Elisabeth , who died here in 1330.

Wall remains of the pointed gate
Vyšehrad 1606

In the same period in which the wall of the new town was built, a new fortification with two new gates and 13-15 square towers with a width of seven meters, which were about 60 meters apart, was built here. Like that of the new town, this wall was also provided with battlements and battlements . The main entrance to Vyšehrad was the “Pointed Gate” (Špička) in the east , which, like the other four city gates, was designed as a porta novem pinarum , that is, with nine turrets. Access to the city was made possible through the Prague Gate (Pražská brána) , which later became the Jerusalem Gate (Jeruzalémská brána) .

After the expansion of the Prague Castle, Karl had a new royal palace built within the wall ring and the collegiate church of St. Peter and Paul converted into a three-aisled church with side chapels in 1364–1369. Also in the second half of the 14th century the little church of the “Beheading of St. Johannes ” (Sv. Jana Stětí) and in the outer bailey on the north side the chapter hospital church of the“ Virgin Mary Humility ” (Pokory Panny Marie) probably built as two-aisled hall churches.

Charles IV also tried to revive the cultural tradition of Vyšehrad; he supported the schools and renewed the solemn service with church hymns. In the coronation order, he determined the Vyšehrad to be the starting point of the coronation procession of the Bohemian kings, which Charles IV himself undertook on September 1, 1347 and which led from here via the cattle market , the old town and the Charles Bridge to the Hradschin .

On Palm Sunday 1350, the imperial coronation insignia and shrines, which were first brought to Vyšehrad by the son of Louis the Bavarian , were brought to Prague Castle by Charles IV, accompanied by the archbishop and the court , on Palm Sunday 1350 convicted. The funeral procession followed this path again after the death of Charles IV on November 29, 1378, where his body was laid out one night in the Kapitelkirche St. Peter and Paul.

The Vyšehrad from the 15th century until today

Coat of arms of the chapter

After Karl's death, Vyšehrad was primarily a priestly town, in which over 100 clergy looked after around ten or more sacred rooms. In 1420 the castle and immunity were conquered by the Hussites and almost all buildings were destroyed. In the 15th century, the "free town on the Vyšehrad hill", mostly inhabited by small craftsmen, was established. With the Counter Reformation , the area fell back to the Chapter in 1620 and there were increasing differences with the established residents.

After the militarily obsolete castle complex was badly damaged in an attack by the Swedes in 1648, it was expanded into a baroque fortress in 1654–1680 . For the vast hills of brick masonry and the heavy corner bastions , which are named after saints, the population was displaced and demolished buildings. The fortress was abolished in 1866 and soon afterwards annexed Prague as the sixth district. In 1911 it was largely razed. Among other things, it was the main setting in the framework novella Innocens (1865) by the Austrian writer Ferdinand von Saar .

As early as the end of the 19th century and between 1924 and 1935 and in the second half of the 20th century, intensive archaeological research was carried out here, during which some secular and sacred buildings of the Romanesque and Gothic royal courts were discovered and made visible.


Vyšehrad tunnel

Vysehrader tunnel

The tunnel is a road tunnel and runs through the Vyšehrad rock. The opening was on December 11, 1904. A tram line has also run through the tunnel since 1910. A narrow footbridge with a width of 1.30 meters runs along the west side of the tunnel, separated from the roadway. Although the tunnel is very short, it is a very important traffic junction that enables transport along the right bank of the river between New Town and Podolí. In the event of the tunnel being closed (e.g. in 1975 from March to July 1982 and November 2008), in addition to wide diversions via Pankrác and Smíchov, public transport ships are required.

Collegiate monastery St. Peter and Paul

St. Peter and Paul Church
Towers of the St. Peter and Paul Church

The St. Peter and Paul Church (Kostel sv. Petra a Pavla) was founded in the 1070s under Vratislav II as a collegiate church of the Vyšehrad chapter . At the same time, it served as a burial church in which four Premyslid dukes were buried. The Romanesque stone sarcophagus from the 11th century or around 1100 with a characteristic round-arched frieze , the so-called tumba of St. Longinus , is probably the burial place of a Přemyslid duke. Remains of the originally Romanesque three-aisled basilica have been preserved in the south-west corner of today's church, and large parts of it were also documented during the excavations. In the following years the church was enlarged several times and renovated in the early Gothic style after a fire.

Under Charles IV, the conversion to a three-nave church with side chapels began in 1364-1369, which was not completed until the beginning of the 15th century. Only the side aisles and the chapels are left of this building, as the church underwent numerous changes in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. From 1575–1576 a new choir and later the sacristy were added, and in 1678 the free-standing early baroque bell tower was built. 1709–1729, Franz Maximilian Kaňka replaced the Gothic vaults with baroque ones and blinded the baroque "undulating" front. The current appearance is mainly due to a neo-Gothic redesign by Josef Mocker in 1885–1887 ; the dominant double tower facade was not added until 1902–1903. The decoration on the facade and the interior also date almost exclusively from this period.

A special piece of equipment is a Gothic panel of the Virgin Mary from around 1360, the so-called “Vyšehrad Madonna” or “Rain Madonna”. She was used to pray for rain in processions in times of drought. It was donated by Charles IV or Archbishop Johann Očko von Wlašim (Jan Očko z Vlašimi) . The picture is painted with tempera on wood (canvas) and after the circumcision is 58 by 43 cm above and below. It belongs to the type of Madonna "Galaktotrophusa" and shows the breastfeeding Mother of God.

Vyšehrad cemetery

Vyšehrad cemetery
Chapel of the Virgin Mary at the entrenchments
New provost house

Adjacent to the church is the Vyšehrad Cemetery (Vyšehradský hřbitov) , the most important Prague cemetery, where the composers Antonín Dvořák , Bedřich Smetana and Rafael Kubelík, as well as the poet and journalist Jan Neruda , also found their final resting place great Czech opera singer Ema Destinová her final resting place. It was created as a national burial site in the 1870s. In the center is the Slavín from the years 1889-1893, the common crypt of honor of the deserving personalities of the Czech people (including Alfons Mucha or the scientist and inventor František Křižík ).

Chapel of the Virgin Mary at the entrenchments

The Chapel of the Virgin Mary at the Schanzen (Kaple Panny Marie v hradbách) is a pilgrimage site from the mid-18th century for the sculpture of the Virgin Mary of Loreto (today in St. Peter and Paul) . The church was closed by Joseph II in 1784 , but was re-consecrated almost a century later.

The Church of the Beheading of Sts originally stood right behind the chapel on the slope of the Nusle valley . Johannes , a two-aisled hall church from the late 14th century. After the devastation by the Hussites, their remains were also removed by building the fortress.

Old and New Propstei

The Old Propstei (Staré proboštství) was built in the first half of the 18th century and still shows fragments of old frescoes.

The New Propstei (Nové propoštství) is a neo-Gothic building from 1872.

Saint Martin's Rotunda

St. Martin's Rotunda

The Martins Rotunda ( Rotunda sv. Martina ) is the oldest rotunda in Prague, which was probably built in the 11th century. The church, which has meanwhile been profaned, was renovated in the 19th century and decorated with wall paintings showing motifs from the Vyšehrad Coronation Code.

St. Lawrence Basilica

The St. Lawrence Basilica (Kostel sv. Vavřince) , a Romanesque rotunda from the second half of the 11th century, is the original parish church of the castle, built by Vratislav II. It was only a few years ago that the foundations of a sacred building with a cross-shaped floor plan could be exposed.

The church was destroyed in the Hussite Wars. In the late Gothic a new canon house was built using the Romanesque walls and the north apse of the church was built into the house chapel of the building, which took over the patronage .

New deanship

New deanship

The New Deanery was established by J. Nicklas in 1877–1879. Today it houses an exhibition on the history of Vyšehrad and the chapter library. Remnants of the St. Laurentius basilica were also built here or uncovered in the garden of the deanery.

Vyšehradské sady

The park is located on the site of the Romanesque residential building ("Palas") and the Gothic royal court of Charles IV. In 1655 an armory was built here, which burned down in 1927. Since then, the site has served as a park. In the central part there are groups of statues by Josef V. Myslbek , which he created for the Palacký Bridge in 1881–1897 and which were assigned their new location in 1948. This line-up does not appear to be entirely happy, as the figures for the bridge were designed from below. They show characters from old Czech sagas. At the northern edge of the green area, the remains of the Romanesque bridge have been excavated and made visible, which formed the access to the castle area to the south.

Burgrave House

The burgrave house on the southwest corner of the mountain is part of the palace district of Charles IV, which was rebuilt in the 16th century. To the west of it, further remains of the 14th century have been preserved, as well as in the former castle tower, which was, however, remodeled in baroque style. It houses an exhibition with engravings and old representations of the Vyšehrad. Below, close to the cliff, lies the ruins of a medieval guard building. Since the Romantic era , this place has been popularly known as “Libussa's Bath”. However, the passage with the crevice was not used to transport Libussa's discarded lovers down into the Vltava, but to transport goods arriving upwards by ship.

Fortress gates

Chotek Gate
Tábor Gate
Leopolds Gate
  • From the baroque fortress that is Chotek -Tor to mention that as the youngest goal in the Empire style was built 1,841th Here is the access to casemates inside the baroque fortifications.
  • The Tábor gate was in the southeast in front of the actual entrenchments. It was built around 1655 in the early baroque period on the outer baroque fortifications. Behind it was the medieval outer bailey.
  • The Pointed Gate (Špička; V pevnosti No. 9 / CN 10) formed the main entrance to Vyšehrad and, like the other four city gates of the New Town, was designed as a porta novem pinarum , with nine turrets. It still shows the remains of the wall of the main gate, which was built between 1348 and 1350, and a 140 m long section of the Gothic castle wall that collided with the new town fortifications.
  • The Leopold Gate (Leopoldova brána) was in the inner ring of the fortress. Carlo Lurago built it around 1678 following the Matthias Gate of Prague Castle in the style of northern Italian fortress architecture. The original drawbridge was replaced by the current road in 1842.


Bedřich Smetana dedicated the first symphonic poem from his cycle My Fatherland to Vyšehrad .


  • Collective autorů za vedení a redakce Růženy Baťkové: Umělecké památky Prahy. Volume 2: Nové Město, Vyšehrad, Vinohrady (Praha 1). Academia, Praha 1998, ISBN 80-200-0627-3 .

On the archeology and building history of the Middle Ages

  • Andrea Bartošková: Vyhodnocení keramiky ze stratigraficky nejstarších poloh na Vyšehradě. In: Památky archeologické. Vol. 89, No. 2, 1998, ISSN  0031-0506 , pp. 356-387, ( evaluation of the ceramics from the stratigraphically oldest layers on Wyschehrad ).
  • Ivana Boháčová, Jan Frolík, Zdenek Smetánka, Borivoj Nechvatál, Ladislav Hrdlička: Prague Castle, Vyšehrad Castle and the Prague agglomeration. In: Jan Fridrich (Ed.): 25 years of archaeological research in Bohemia. On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Archeology, Prague (= Památky Archeologicke. Supplementum. 1, ZDB -ID 1237678-4 ). Institute of Archeology, Prague 1994, pp. 153-164.
  • Ladislav Hrdlička, Borivoj Nechvátal: Fyzikální nedestruktivní průzkum knížecí a královske akropole na Vyšehradě 1. In: Archaeologica historica. Vol. 21, 1996, ISSN  0231-5823 , pp. 315–328, ( physical non-destructive exploration of the princely and royal acropolis in Vyšehrad 1 ).
  • Borivoj Nechvátal: Studies of the ducal and royal center at Vyšehrad. In: Pavel Vařeka (Ed.): Archeology in Bohemia 1986–1990. Institute of Archeology, Praha 1991, ISBN 80-901026-1-1 , pp. 149-158.
  • Borivoj Nechvátal: Archaeological investigation of the St. Peter and Paul Basilica on Vyšehrad (results and problems). In: Juraj Pavúk (ed.): Actes du XIIe Congrès International des Sciences Préhistoriques et Protohistoriques. Volume 4. Institut Archéologique de l'Académie Slovaque des Sciences, Bratislava 1993, ISBN 80-88709-06-7 , pp. 140-146.
  • Borivoj Nechvátal: The Archaeological Study of Vyšehrad: 1969–1993. In: Jan Fridrich (Ed.): 25 years of archaeological research in Bohemia. On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Archeology, Prague (= Památky Archeologicke. Supplementum. 1). Institute of Archeology, Prague 1994, pp. 168-174.
  • Borivoj Nechvátal: Raně středověké baptisterium na Vyšehradě. In: Archaeologica Historica. Vol. 25, 2000, pp. 323–334 (Early Medieval Baptistery in Vyšehrad)
  • Zdeněk Petráň: První české mince. Set Out, Praha 1998, ISBN 80-902058-9-5 .

See also

Web links

Commons : Vyšehrad  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Prague Transport Geography Part II, 7/2000, printed article by the Prague Transport Office, July 5, 2000, p. 14.