On our fifth day of our trip to the Czech Republic, we found ourselves with a free morning. Needing to be back in central Prague by early afternoon for the departure of our half-day excursion out of town, we thought a morning in Vyšehrad perfectly fit the bill.
Prague has a fairly easy-to-use, well-connected metro system, but actually the only time we utilized it was when we traveled across town to Vyšehrad, located about 2.5 miles south of our hotel. Every other day our feet served us well in getting around the city!
We were a little nervous to visit Vyšehrad because, although it came highly recommended by both our guidebook and other locals we encountered in Prague, none of the maps we had in our possession showed that part of the city, so in order to get there, we kind of just had to wing it! (Also we don’t carry our smartphones or laptops with us in Europe). After a twenty minute metro ride and a twenty minute walk, we found ourselves at the Vyšehrad Cemetery, which serves as a final resting place for many famous artistic Czechs, including composers Antonín Dvořák and Bedřich Smetana.
The cemetery was small but beautifully manicured, and a bit eerie to explore.
As we strolled, we thought we were seeking out a castle, as all of the brochures and guidebooks we read referred to our destination as “Vyšehrad Castle.”
When we found these amazing ruins from a high fortress overlooking the river, we got really excited and started lurking all over the place, trying the find “the castle!” Eventually, we figured out that there wasn’t much of a castle left in Vyšehrad – just serene, lush grounds, and ruins of what once stood on this high hill in the 10th century.
The pinnacle of our visit, atop the fortress, overlooking Prague and the Vlatava River.
That view! From here, you can actually see the Prague’s “other” castle, the Prague Castle, wayyy in the background! (Which is actually a legit castle.)
I could not get enough of this incredible view! With our expectations brought down to size, we really came to appreciate Vyšehrad for what it was: a hidden gem in Prague.
First of all, our visit was free. Secondly, we barely saw anyone else on the grounds during our visit which made for an incredibly peaceful, serene morning of strolling through the park. If I lived in Prague, I like to think that one of my favorite things to do would be to come here on a warm, sunny afternoon with a picnic basket, bottle of wine, and a book, and enjoy quiet, lovely afternoons in the grass beneath a shade tree.
While there may not be a castle in the traditional sense of the word on the Vyšehrad grounds, there is another amazing structure that still stands: the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, a neo-gothic church originally founded in the late 11th century, rebuilt in the 13th century after suffering a fire. [source]
Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul
We paid a small fee to visit the glowing interior of the basilica.
Clearly, it was gorgeous.
After our splendid morning in Vyšehrad, we rode the metro back to Republic Square to grab lunch before our afternoon outing.
We found a quick place to eat beside the Municipal House.
After a morning spent walking the Vyšehrad grounds, we were parched! Giant lemonades in were order.
We both ordered a club sandwich for lunch. Not very Czech but yummy, with thin, crisp, salty fries and a tangy, creamy mayo dipping sauce.
After lunch, we hung out in the square and listened to these street performers until our afternoon excursion. These guys (and gal!) were quite good!
I definitely recommend checking out Vyšehrad if you’re seeking a beautiful, peaceful destination off the beaten path in Prague. Visiting Vyšehrad was a vastly different experience than visiting the commercialized, tourist-filled Prague Castle (post coming soon), and I will say that I enjoyed the time I spent in dignified Vyšehrad more than my time spent in the flashy, crowded Prague Castle.
Other Posts from this Trip:
- Europe 2013: Day 1-Arriving in Prague
- Europe 2013: Day 2-First Full Day in Prague, Part I
- Europe 2013: Day 2, Part II–Taste of Prague Tour
- Europe 2013: Day 3-Dresden, Germany
- Europe 2013: Day 3-Dinner at Café Imperial
- Europe 2013: Day 4, Part I-Prague’s Old Town Square
- Europe 2013: Day 4, Part II-Prague: Mala Strana