National Museum – National Memorial on the Vítkov Hill (Národní muzeum – Národní památník na Vítkově)
The memorial building on top of Vítkov Hill was built between the years 1928 and 1938 in honour of the Czechoslovak legionaries. The exhibition "The Crossroads of Czech and Czechoslovak Statehood" captures significant turning points in the history of the 20th century. The monument also features the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a monumental equestrian statue of Jan Žižka, and a café with a panoramic view of the city.
- November – March
- Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun
- 10.00 – 18.00
- April – October
- Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun
- 10.00 – 18.00
- basic 120 CZK
- reduced 80 CZK
- family 200 CZK
A battle took place on the hill called Vitkov on 14 July 1420, in which the Hussite troops led by Jan Žižka defeated the army of crusaders. To commemorate this battle, the hill became known as Žižkov.
The National Memorial built by the project of the architect Jan Zázvorka was constructed in honor of the Legionnaires and the formation of the Czechoslovak Republic. It is a constructivist building with the length of 142 m, width of 27.6 m and the main building height of 31.5 m
The first symbolic excavation for laying a foundation stone was made by Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk on 8 November 1928 and the construction works were initiated in 1929. The massive granite block paneled building was completed in 1932; the works on the interior decoration continued until 1938. The works on the nearly completed memorial were interrupted by the German occupation. During the World War II Wehrmacht used the premises as a storage space and they were significantly devastated.
On 14 July 1949 remains of an unknown warrior fallen in battle at Dukla were brought here and placed in the sarcophagus in front of the Memorial. The tomb of an Unknown Warrior is covered by the granite slab with the national emblem and the inscription “Glory to heroes, who died for their country”. The original First Republic emblem created by sculptor Otakar Španiel was replaced in 1962 with the socialist emblem created by Jiří Pradler. In August 1997 the copy of Španiel´s emblem by sculptor Vladimír Oppl and Martin Ceplecha was fitted into the place. The bronze entrance doors are the work of sculptor Josef Malejovský, decorated with reliefs, of which six are devoted to the Hussite era. The entrance consists of a ceremonial hall with top lighting, the largest organ in the Czech Republic and marble tiles. From there you can enter into lounges.
On 22 June 1954 the Mausoleum of Klement Gottwald had been established here, which was repealed on 30 March 1962 (every night 70 doctors and cosmetics cared for the embalmed body; the operating room was in the basement). The sarcophagus of Klement Gottwald is located in the middle of the central hall (under the ceremonial hall); along the room walls there are other 10 sarcophagi and a number of tombs. The remains were placed in a memorial at the discretion of the CPC Central Committee – it was nearly 50 urns, including the remains of presidents Klement Gottwald, Antonin Zápotocká and Ludvík Svoboda. After 1990 some remains were returned to families; the other remains, in which survivors had expressed no interest, were sent to the CPC, which buried them in a common grave at the Olšanské Cemetery. Above the entrance to the central hall there is a mosaic called Where Is My Home by Jakub Obrovský and in the corners of the hall there are reliefs of warriors fallen in the World War I by Karel Pokorný.
Hall of fallen warriors, also the Czechoslovak Legion Hall (to the left of the central hall) is dedicated to warriors of the World War I and World War II; their urns with earth from mass graves are placed under the floor. The walls are decorated with mosaics by Max Švabinský verses by Vítězslav Nezval and Slivenec marble. In the room there is a statue called Wounded by Jan Štursa and candlestick by Jaroslav Horejc. In the columbarium (next to the central hall) there are four marble sarcophagi, figural candlesticks by Jaroslav Horejc and verses on the walls by Jan Neruda.
Hall of the Soviet Army, which was built additionally in the form of the apse in 1955, is lined with marble; the bronze door with relief decoration is the work of Jan Kavan and Jan Simota. The sarcophagus contains remains of an Unknown Soviet soldier. On the walls there are mosaic murals by Vladimír Sychra together with verses by Vítězslav Nezval beneath.
In front of the Memorial one of the largest bronze equestrian statues in the world was unveiled in 1950 - a monument of Jan Žižka, the work by Bohumil Kafka, who had worked on it since the time of the First Republic. The monument is 9 m high, 9.6 meters long, 5 m wide and weighs 16.5 tons. The statue was cast in 1946 by Václav Mašek company. In April 2010 the reconstruction of the statue will begin, which will last until November 2011.
In 1962 the National Memorial in Žižkov was declared a national cultural monument.
In 2001 the National Memorial in Vítkov got under the management of the National Museum. From May 2007 to October 2009 the Memorial was closed for reconstruction. The ceremonial opening was held on 25 October 2009 and the Memorial has been open for public since 29 October 2009
History of the Memorial in the data:
1882 - the Association for the construction of a monument of Jan Žižka z Trocnova was founded
1907 – the City donates a land
1914 - the first architectural competition
1923 and 1927 - more competitions
1931 – the design of equestrian statue by Bohumil Kafka was selected
1950 - the statue was unveiled
1954 - 1962 - Klement Gottwald Mausoleum
1990 – remains of Communist Party officials were removed
from 1990 - looking for another use
June 2007 - an intention to use the Memorial by the National Museum for the exhibition of the history of Czech and Czechoslovak statehood was announced
25 October 2009 - the opening of renovated Memorial