The Matthews Monument at Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY

Monday, October 13, 2014

Vysehrad: Home to Who Was Who in Prague

The top of the Slavin tomb by Antonin Wiehl in Vysherad Cemetery
 Vysherad Cemetery is one of Prague's younger cemeteries, started in 1869 on the grounds of the former Vysherad Castle, the ruins of which date back to the 11th century.  The church next to the cemetery is a neo-Gothic structure (1885, 1903) called the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul.  It looks older than it is, and marks the place where the original Romanesque church was built in 1249.

Vysherad Cemetery holds the remains of world-famous artists, politicians and scientists.  It is also the site of some of the most gorgeous funerary sculpture that I have ever seen.  Enjoy!

Entrance to Vysherad Cemetery

Ahhhh...let's hear it for skulls!

Ahhhhhh...let's hear it for the dead people!

There are arcades around 3 sides of the cemetery, with ornate memorials under each arch.

A better view of one of the arcades.

The marble here is top-notch, my guess the best from Europe (Italy?  Austria?)

And the bronze-work....oh, my, the brone-work!

Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) was one of the Czech Republic's most famous composers.  He was born in Bohemia, and mastered the violin at the age of 6.  (I was pretty good on the flute-o-phone at the age of 7, but I don't think we're talking about the same league)  In 1877, he submitted his compositions to the Austrian Prize competition and one of the members of the jury was none other than Johannes Brahms, who greatly admired Dvorak's work.  Dvorak performed in Europe, Great Britain and the United States, and wrote many symphonies, operas and songs.  In 1892, he moved to the US and became the director of the National Conservatory of Music of America in NYC for 3 years.  He came back to his homeland and continued creating music with nationalistic folk-song influence.  He was considered the most versatile composer of his time.

The bronze-work left me slack-jawed.  And it is in great shape.

The arcades contain beautiful, rich mosaics.

Egyptian Revival depiction of the dead people!

Vysherad contained some gorgeous wrought-iron lanterns designed to hold candles to commemorate the deceased.  It reminds me of All Souls Night, when my grandfather would take my sister and I to the Polish National Catholic Cemetery outside of Scranton, PA, to honor our ancestors, including his grandfather Michal Zurowski who helped to start the Polish National Catholic Church in the south side of Scranton (where I was baptized).  I think that's why cemeteries are special to me, and not scary.  I loved All Souls Night in November, in the cemetery at night, placing the little red-glass-covered candles on the graves of our loved ones.  Grandpa always taught us to remember our ancestors.  And so......I do. 

Probably related to Antonin Dvorak

Close-up of the china portrait of the above gravesite.

The front of the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul

Bohumil Zivna was an engineer and a professor at the Technical University of Prague.  He was also on the Board of Patents in Vienna, and was an alderman in Prague.

This plant is bergenia, also known as pigsqueak (the sound two leaves make when you rub them together).  I found this plant all over Prague, in several colors.

Writer and poet

Love the mourning statues

Rather tight in here, similar to Jewish cemeteries

There were many brightly colored floral tributes here, as we visited a few weeks after Easter.

That damn Soviet influence still resides in traces, in places in Prague...he's holding an open book, the Bible, most likely, in his hand, right below her chin.

This was at the base of the last grave of a child

Not sure, was this a chestnut wreath?

"Rodina" means basically "the people known as."  It's on my great-grandparents' gravestone, "Rodina Kosinski."

Karel Nedbal was an orchestra conductor for operas.  And one of the many "head"-stones in Vysherad.


Karel Pelz was a court counselor, a professor at the Technical University, Commander of the Order of the Cross of Francisco Joseph, a member of the Czech Academy, and a member of the Czech Society of Sciences.

The yellow flowers at the base is Oregon grape holly.

Josef Slavik was a great violin virtuoso.  The quote above his name is from Paganini, who said, "The world trembled when you played!"  Slavik was friends with Chopin and Schubert.

Horica was a journalist

Very recent burial, love the butterfly


Another skull!

See???  And with snakes too!!



Wonderful china portraits

Excellent sculpture!


Lovely sheep

I love, love, LOVE this china portrait!

Fabulous sculpture; look at the soldiers at the bottom

I know, I thought it was Col. Klink too. But it's Monseigneur Bohumil Stasek (and now I am probably going to hell)



Love this detail!

Poppy pods....if you take enough opium (from the poppy), you too will sleep the eternal sleep

Like the spider web?

Both professors of medicine, he also taught philosophy.

Sign of a learned scholar

And there he is, that learned university professor

Again, quite a "head"-stone!

"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord..."

Bedrich Smetana, Czech's celebrated composer who created nationalistic music, music that expressed Czechs' desire for independence.  Smetana was a gifted pianist and gave his first public performance at age 6.  (I think I was just too old when I was introduced to the flute-o-phone!!)  He composed music and also served as the principal conductor of Prague's Provisional Theater, until he went deaf at age 50.  But he could still compose and did for the next 10 years, until his health failed and he died. 

This monument is huge, a tribute to more than 2 dozen great Czechs, including Alfons Mucha.

I love this one.  Can you see the eagle, on his back?

Front of the Basilica

Now THAT'S a door!

I spent over an hour studying this wonderful sculpture above the entrance.  The Last Supper is in the middle, but I need a translation for the bottom section.  Hope you enjoyed another "trip" to Prague!


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

this is by far the most fabulous & interesting cemetery you have posted (although the first Prague cemetery/ivy garden is also great). If you're going to be buried, do it with style!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing those amazing photographs. I'm so very impressed with the artistry and craftsmanship. I'm also surprised by how close the plots are - everything and everyone in tight spaces. I suppose it's due to the limited availability of space. I also love churches - very imposing.