The Velehrad Monastery, and in particular its basilica, is the spiritual heart of the Czech Republic. It was here that a millennium of Christian history began in this part of Europe, a fact reflected in the annual National Pilgrimage involving tens of thousands of people. In 2013 it will be 1150 years since the arrival of Apostles of the Slavs, Cyril and Methodius.
The monastery at Velehrad appeared in the 13th century on the slopes of the Chřiby Hills. Its current baroque face is the result of a rebuild following a blaze in 1681. The most noteworthy section of the complex is the Basilica of the Assumption and SS Cyril and Methodius, the most significant pilgrimage church in the Czech Republic. The Velehrad basilica was visited in 1990 by Pope John Paul II.
Saints of the Great Moravian Empire
Every July Velehrad is the venue for the annual National Pilgrimage, held to coincide with a national holiday commemorating saints Cyril and Methodius. These two brothers from Thessaloniki arrived in the Great Moravian Empire in 863 at the behest of the second ruler of the empire, Prince Rostislav, and were later canonised. In order to make their mission to spread Christianity among the Slavs more successful, they conducted their services in a Slavic tongue, for which Cyril created a new alphabet. Both of these missionaries had a fundamental effect on the development of learning in this part of Europe.
Inimitable atmosphere of pilgrimage sites
All of East Moravia is steeped in the living traditions of the Christian faith. Pilgrims will find the signs of spiritual life on every corner, be it a roadside cross, ways of the cross or basilicas such as the one in Svatý Hostýn. Every year the faithful flock tens and even hundreds of kilometres from every corner of the country along pilgrimage routes in East Moravia, with prayers in the Velehrad basilica providing a fitting climax to their journeys.
From Velehrad head to the Buchlovice Chateau. The route rewards hikers with wonderful views of East Moravia in its entirety. Buchlovice Chateau is the most important Baroque palace, the significance of which reaches far beyond the borders of the Czech. Near the chateau is a hill, atop which stands idyllic Buchlov Castle, a strategic fortress dating from the 13th century.
So come and discover the places where the Christian traditions of Central Europe were born!