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Vyšehrad Prague

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V pevnosti 159/5B, 128 00 Praha-Praha 2, Česká republika
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According to old legends Vyšehrad used to be the first seat of the Czech kings who ruled over a country of western Slavs. One of the first rulers was princess Libuše who chose as her husband a ploughman called Přemysl. This man of simple stock became the founder of the first Czech royal dynasty – the Přemyslids – who ruled for over 400 years. Libuše is also famed as a prophetess as she predicted the future glory of the town of Prague.

The truth is that archaeologists have confirmed that the first castle was not built at Vyšehrad until the 10th century. In 972 prince Boleslav II founded a mint at Vyšehrad where he coined money. The military importance of the castle was demonstrated in 1003-1004 when the Czech lands were invaded by the Polish king Boleslav the Valiant. At this time Vyšehrad was the only place where the Czech army managed to defend itself. Prince Vratislav II, who in 1085 became the first Czech king, also chose Vyšehrad as his seat. In 1070 he left the Prague Castle because of disputes with his younger brother Jaromír, the Prague bishop, and moved his court to Vyšehrad. Vratislav II had the sacred and secular areas of Vyšehrad separated by fortifications. He founded several churches in the area, but the only one to survive in its original form from the 11th century is the Romanesque rotunda of St Martin. In the end king Vratislav was buried in Vyšehrad as were several other rulers.

The last ruler to live here was Soběslav I in the years 1125-1140. It was during his reign that Přemysl’s legendary bast slippers, pouch and plough-share, proving the rural descent of the Přemyslid dynasty, and apparently kept in memory at Vyšehrad, were mentioned for the first time. In 1158 Vladislav II succeded king Soběslav I and definitely moved his court back to the Prague Castle. Vyšehrad was later rebuilt by Charles IV, but was never again lived in permanently. Charles IV perceived Vyšehrad as the symbolic seat of the Přemyslid dynasty from which his mother was descended.

Walking from the direction of the quarter of Prague called Pankrác the first gate you enter is Leopold’s Gate. It was built in the 2nd half of the 17th century as part of the Baroque fortifications. To the left of the gate is the entrance into the Vyšehrad casemates built inside the fortification wall in 1742 and now partly open to the public.

The Táborská Gate is an early Baroque construction from 1655 which shuts off the forward fortifications in the direction of the Pankrác plain.

One of the famous monuments in Vyšehrad is the church of St Peter and Paul together with the cemetery where important figures of the Czech nation were buried.

The area of the former royal quarters is nowadays a park where visitors can admire statues based on themes from Czech legends such as Lumír and the Song, Záboj and Slavoj, Ctirad and Šárka, Libuše and Přemysl. These statues are the work of J.V. Myslbek and were moved here from the Palacký bridge, where they originally stood.