Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Ctirad and Šárka at Vyšehrad

Five minutes from Prague's Ruzyně International airport, shielded from the dual carriageway by the most insensitively-placed McDonald's in the world,  lies a forested valley of particular beauty. Its rocky landscape, the haunt of climbers and summer daytrippers, resembles that of Middle Earth, and of course it has its place in Czech mythology.  One of its cliffs is known as Dívčí Skok, or Maiden's Leap, since it was from here that Šárka - on the left in today's picture - hurled herself to her death in a final act of defiance or remorse, depending on your reading of the legend. 

Šárka was the chief actor in a drama of betrayal which took place in the seventh century AD.  After the death of princess Libuše, the women of the tribe decided to run things in their own way, and set up a fortress of their own on the opposite bank of the river from Vyšehrad. They were led by a fearsome amazon called Vlasta, but despite a number of gory victories over their masculine counterparts, they had not yet managed to dispatch the noble knight Ctirad.

It was therefore arranged that Šárka should be tied to a tree, in apparent distress (railway tracks had not yet been invented), and that when Ctirad took pity on her, she should reward him with a cup of mead, which she conveniently had with her despite having been ambushed.  When he was suitably drunk, Šárka persuaded Ctirad to blow on her horn for help, and thus he sealed his own fate at Vlasta's merciless hands. The statue is one of four sculpted by Josef Myslbek, who was also responsible for the equestrian statue of St Wenceslas outside Prague's National Museum.


Anonymous said...

Alois Jirasek has a good description of the Sarka/ Ctirad story at this link:


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