Vyšehrad and Its Earliest Remaining Structures from the Early Middle Ages

Prague 2, Vyšehrad

Soběslavova Street 14

one of the oldest sites with archaeological monuments accessible in situ in Bohemia

public transport (metro station Vyšehrad) and on foot

The Vyšehrad compound with the remains of early medieval architecture is one of the few places where visitors may see an authentic space of archeologically uncovered structures ranking among the oldest architectural monuments in Bohemia. Moreover, this area is one of the oldest compounds that popularises exceptional monuments among the general public.

Prince Vratislav founded the Basilica of Saint Lawrence in the late 1070s or early 1080s on a prominent site adjacent to the castle acropolis. Compared to the chapter basilica consecrated to Saint Peter, it was simpler (one-choir transept) and smaller (23.5 metres long and 17 metres wide). Built from the typical low and coarsely worked marlstone ashlars, the church was equipped with sumptuous relief clay-fire floor tiles. Apart from Vyšehrad, distinctive hexagonal tiles with motifs of fantastic beasts and Emperor Nero are found in the most significant residences of Bohemian rulers and chapter seats. They received the name Vyšehrad type tiling for having first been found in this basilica. They are among the most valuable archaeological monuments of Vyšehrad. The basilica is surrounded by a burial ground which originated after the basilica’s foundation. The basilica’s origin derives from a denarius of Vratislav’s royal rule (after 1085) which was found in the hand of a buried individual.

Nonetheless, a generously conceived church with a rectangular nave and three semi-circular apses (tri-concha) was the first structure in this area. It could be dated from around the mid-10th century when Vyšehrad was founded. At the other end of the timeline, the date of its possible construction is limited by the foundation of the basilica which was erected over its foundations. Although interwar research uncovered the masonry of this structure, it was first interpreted as sacral as late as the 1960s. The tri-concha floor plan, however, may have been restored based on review (2011) and subsequent exploration research (2014). No analogies of the aforesaid type occur in our country’s milieu; it deviates by its size as well (the long axis is at least 25 metres long). The capacity of the church was also greater than Saint Vitus Rotunda at Prague Castle. This underlines a possible association between this structure and the foundation of the second castle in Prague no matter whether the builder was Boleslav I or one of his successors. Made of coarsely worked marlstone, the foundations were embedded in the local clay. No aboveground masonry has survived.

3D documentation of the compound, the remains of the 11th century Saint Lawrence Basilica and its precursor – church with three apses during the compound remediation in 2011 (FARO scanner and multi-image photogrammetry)

Datum vložení: 21.1.2019 | Datum aktualizace: 1.9.2020
Autor: Ivana Boháčová

Použité prameny:
  • Boháčová, I. 2013: Replika dlažby vyšehradského typu v bazilice sv. Vavřince na Vyšehradě. Vícegenerační ar- cheologický výzkum a současná prezentace archeologické památky. Staletá Praha 29/1, 114–125.
  • Boháčová, I. – Nechvátal, B. 2014: Historie a současná obnova archeologického areálu s bazilikou sv. Vavřince v prostoru NKP Praha-Vyšehrad. Zprávy památkové péče 74/1, 3–11.
  • Nechvátal, B. et al. 2009: Rotunda sv. Martina a bazilika sv. Vavřince na Vyšehradě. Archeologický výzkum. Praha.
  • Varadzin, L. – Nechvátal, B. 2012: Objev sakrální stavby překvapivého půdorysu pod bazilikou sv. Vavřince na Vyšehradě v r. 2011. Předběžná zpráva. Průzkumy památek 19/2, 170–176.