On our last, rainy day in Prague, In and I decided to toss the guidebook and go wandering. We had heard of a park called Vyšehrad, which had some nice walking paths and a view over the city… and that sounded as good as anything else. Little did we know that our little ramble would take us through a fascinating cemetery, a beautiful church, the world of Czech legend and the city’s oldest surviving building. This was no ordinary park… this was Vyšehrad – Prague’s other castle.
* - I apologize in advance for the low quality photos, and for using some images from other websites. Due to the inclement weather and the lack of plans, I only had my waterproof Canon Powershot with me – and it didn’t always do this place justice.
The first thing we found as we entered was a children’s playground. It had all the usual slides and monkey bars, but it also had various mythological characters carved out of wood. Some of them had names, so I was able to look up their stories later. I’m still in the dark about others! Bivoj, on the left, was famous for defeating the crazy boar he’s carrying on his back. The boar lived outside the gates of Vyšehrad itself (apparently where the TV station is now) and terrorized everyone until Bivoj showed up, smacked it, and carried it around to impress a girl. No idea who the guy on the right is, but I like his style.
We first began to suspect that Vyšehrad was more than an ordinary park when we found ourselves face-to-face with the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. It’s the most prominent part of the castle complex, and you can see it from all over the city. Close up, though, the most interesting detail is on the richly ornamented doors.
Around the church are various statues, quite large and representing, once again, characters from the Czech Mythology. Confession time: I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Czech Mythology before Vyšehrad. It’s a shame, too, because these statues seemed to tell very interesting stories. Apparently they once stood on the Palacký Bridge, and were moved to Vyšehrad by mistake. Oh, and yes, I had fun photo-bombing them.
The Vyšehrad cemetery lies just beyond the church -an artistic complex that serves as final resting place for some of the Czech Republic’s most famous citizens – composers, artists, writers, politicians and scientists. Even I recognized names like Mucha, Smetana, and Dvorak.
And this is St. Martin’s Rotunda, which at 900 years old is the oldest building in Prague.
Oh yes, and the view we came to see? Nothing to write home about – especially on a grey and rainy day. But we were hardly complaining as our accidental tour came to a close. Vyšehrad might just be Prague’s best-kept secret!