The rocky outcrop above the river Vltava was inhabited already in prehistoric times, as is proven by numerous archaeological finds. However, the more stories emerge about the beginning of czech stateawareness, less written evidence exists.
Factual clues about the existence and importance of Vysehrad come from denarii of the Vysehrad mint. These silver coins date from the tenth century. Therefore it seems that Vysehrad is younger than Prague Castle. It became the seat of the ruling Premyslid dynasty sometime around the turn of the millenium.
Especially under the reign of Vratislav II extensive construction of the fortress began. Vratislav also established a chapter of the catholic church directly subordinate to Rome. The monarch returned to Prague Castle after 1140.
Vysehrad continued as a chapter and the council of its provost was functioning as a chancellory of the Czech Kingdom. The importance of Vysehrad was not renewed until the reign of Charles IV. In the coronation council of czech kings he decided, that the ruler must go to Vysehrad the night before the coronation. With this he revived a tradition of the Premyslid family, which ruled the czech country from its beginning. Charles’ mother Eliska descended from this family.
The old and neglected fortress, still of romanesque origin, was largely reconstructed and in 30 years again became a royal seat of residence. The military period of Vysehrad is related also to the story of the year 1744, when Prague was occupied by the Prussians. The imperial armies managed to push them out of the czech countries. The Prussians wanted to leave the city in ruins and Vysehrad with it. Therefore they lit a charge of explosives. However, three Vysehrad citizens, by occupation a wheelright, a tailor and a goldsmith, penetrated the underground passageways and extinguished the fuses of 133 barrels of gunpowder.
For their courage and the saving of Vysehrad they were decorated with medals by the Empress Marie Theresie and received lifelong annuity. To the north is the Saint Leopold bulwark, at the place where the gothic walls of the New Town were connected with the Vysehrad fortifications. At the foot of it is the neo-gothic Premyslid palace. On the edge of the park, near the eastern entrance of the cemetery, stands the Devil Column. There is a legend about this column from the baroque period: a priest made a bet with the devil on his soul, that he could finish the holy service sooner than the devil could bring the column from Rome to the building site of the Vysehrad church. The devil would have won the bet if it had not been for the help of Saint Peter himself, who threw the column into the Venetian Lagoon. The devil arrived too late and in his anger threw the column at the roof of the church and broke it into three pieces.
So it can be found today. A complete impression of Vysehrad might be crowned by the Brick Gate, which belongs to the most beautiful constructions of the imperial style in Prague.