VYŠEHRAD, the rock above the river with its dark outline of slender spires, is an inseparable part of the Prague skyline. The traditions of this mysterious site are bound up with the legends whose literary treatment was worked up Alois Jirásek from the ancient chronicles into his work "The Old Czech Legends". These tell of the Princess Libuše, who foresaw the future glory of Prague from her seat at Vyšehrad, and who sent a delegation to seek out Přemysl the Ploughman, founder of the ruling dynasty, as well as of brave Bivoj, the wondrous horse Šemík and its leap from Vyšehrad rock, and of the War of the Maidens. The legends of Vyšehrad, explaining and celebrating the origins and early years of the Přemyslid state, have made this one of the Czech nation's most distinguished sites. A fortified settlement appeared at Vyšehrad sometime during the 10th century. The first definitive evidence for the existence of the Vyšehrad hillfort are Přemyslid denarii of Boleslav II, minted there in the mid-10th century.
The reign of Vratislav II (1061-1092) opened a new chapter in the history of Vyšehrad. This prince, named King of Bohemia and Poland in 1085, chose Vyšehrad as his royal residence, strengthening its fortifications and building a permanent palace more suited to the aspirations of the Bohemian rulers. He founded a new minster, the Basilica of St Lawrence, and what is probably Prague's earliest Romanesque rotunda, that of St Martin and The Vyšehrad Chapter. The Chapter was excluded from the authority of the Bishop of Prague, and was subject directly to the Pope. It benefited from the great attention paid to it by many Bohemian sovereigns, and obtained a range of political and economic privileges. Vratislav´s successor, Soběslav I (1125-1140), also took an interest in the artistic decoration of the churches, and in the social prestige of Vyšehrad. The coronation of Vladislav in 1140 brought the precedence of this seat over Prague Castle to an end.Vyšehrad regained its importance under Charles IV.
The present appearance of Vyšehrad was largely determined in the second half of the 19th century. It was led by a number of nationalist-oriented provosts; of these, the most important in terms of the development of Vyšehrad were Václav Štulc and Mikuláš Karlach, who decisively determined the present appearance of Vyšehrad and its major landmark, the neo-Gothic : Church of SS Peter & Paul was rebuilt in the Neo-Gothic style to a design by J. Mocker and F. Mikeš that respected the disposition of Charles IV's Gothic design. It was then that the idea arose of founding a national cemetery at Vyšehrad on the site of the parish graveyard. It took many years to build the Pantheon, and the present Vyšehrad Cemetery is a unique artistic whole, harmoniously fitting its surroundings. At the same time it is also a unique gallery of funerary sculpture, and an expression of Czech artistic development from the second half of the l9th century to the present day. It is the final resting place of over 600 personalities from the fields of culture and intellectual endeavour.
At the 21th century, Vyšehrad retains its atmosphere of magic and mystery. It offers visitors one of the most beautiful urban panoramas of bygone Europe, quiet parks for relaxation, and true cultural and spiritual inspiration.