This famous cemetery was built in 1869, at the edge of the site of the Vyšehrad castle – where legend has it the first settlement was created that would later become Prague. The first Czech kings ruled from this spot, before the more well-known Prague Castle was constructed.
Legend has it that Princess Libuše founded Prague on this very spot, catching sight of a builder constructing a threshhold and declaring it would be the site of a great civilization whose glories would touch the stars (‘Praha’ the Czech word for Prague, also means threshhold).
Whether or not the legend is true, the spot is certainly picturesque. A few kilometers from Prague’s center, Vyšehrad is nestled along the edge of the Vltava River, but it merits a visit just to see the beautiful cemetery that is the resting place of so many prominent Czech writers, artists and musicians.
The great composer Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904), perhaps best known for his opera Rusalka and his Symphony from the New World, is buried here.
Dvořák’s predecessor, the famed composer Bedřich Smetana (1824-1884) is also buried at Vyšehrad. He is the composer of the operas The Bartered Bride and Libuše (the founder of Prague) and the symphony The Moldau. Known as the father of Czech music, Smetana’s Má vlast , written between 1874-1879, is now the Czech national anthem.
The artist and graphic artist Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939) is also buried here. Mucha was a key artist during the Art nouveau period, basing himself in Prague, Vienna, and primarily Paris, and best known for his beautiful art deco designs and theatre posters that are said to have ushered in the era of modern advertising.
Authors Božena Němcová (whose images graces the 500 crown note) and Karel Čapek (novelist and playwright, perhaps best known for his science fiction work) are also laid to rest in this cemetery.
When you are done wandering around the illustrious graves within the Vyšehrad Cemetery, it’s worth walking back to the town center along the Vltava – especially if you enjoy the sunny day we did on our last visit.