Favorite Place in Prague: Vyšehrad Castle
Normally, I like to visit places that are quieter and more local. But Vyšehrad (literally High Castle), Prague’s second castle, is such a wonderful (and big) place that it’s a shame more people don’t take the time to visit. It holds a special place in many Praguers’ hearts and is a must-see in my book.
History has it that a castle was founded here in the first half of the 10th century, and thanks to its high rocky location overlooking the Vltava River, enjoyed a period of importance for roughly 50 years. The area is now mostly green space with walking paths and beautiful views of the city, including the more famed Prague castle. Mythologically speaking, Vyšehrad is also the spot where Princess Libuše apparently foretold the future of Prague’s greatness.
Highlights and landmarks
Strolling through, you’ll spot some interesting landmarks. One of the first will be St. Martin’s Rotunda. Built in the second half of the 11th century, it’s not only the largest rotunda in Prague, but also the city’s oldest complete Romanesque building. There’s been a church at Vyšehrad since the 14th century, but the current one, the Church of St. Peter and Paul, was built in the early 1900s.
Next door is Slavín, Prague’s “pop” cemetery. It was designed in the mid-19th century as a final resting place for Prague’s famous writers, scientists, artists, and the like. Prominent bodies laid to rest here include the writer Karel Capek, artist Alfons Mucha and composers Bedrich Smetana and Antonín Dvorák. The headstones and memorials are quite interesting and it’s definitely worth a wander.
On the south side of the church, you’ll spot a large green expanse dotted with four statues. These depict mythological heroes from Czech history. If you come across three huge granite slabs, take a photo. According to legend, these slabs were thrown through the roof of the church by Lucifer, made angry by an insubordinate cleric. They’re now called the “Devil’s Pillars.”
Aside from the church and monuments, there are a couple cafes, but more importantly a huge beer garden that is filled with locals, families, and dogs at the weekends. A cool wooden playground makes it a great place to allow kids to run and be free for an afternoon.
How to get there
Vyšehrad is listed in nearly all the guidebooks and there’s easy metro access (the stop is on the red metro line C and is named “Vyšehrad.”) It’s about a 10-minute walk from the metro station.
The views from all sides are amazing; you’ll probably spot from above many of the landmarks you’ve already been to down below. I predict it will be a highlight to your Prague visit.