Context at the crossroads

benesov Overview_CROPVelkyBlanikPath

Land of castles and legends, war and peace

By contrast to Prague’s bustle and its in-your-face memorial to heroes of the Heydrich assassination, the nearby villages of Lounovice, Benesov (top photo) and Lidice seem leisurely and pastoral. Like Prague, however, they shelter a rich collective cultural history shaped by coincidence and geographical coordinates.

As a whole, the Czech provinces —  Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and Slovakia — are among the Old-World crossroads of Europe, where vivid legends fuse with centuries of cultural and political upheaval.  For centuries, artists, writers, musicians and merchants have traveled the road from Prague to Vienna and beyond. Armies — both religious and political — have fought to control the people and the land, and its rich natural resources. In war and peace, folk legends including heroic knights and their horses sleeping in caves deep within Blanik Mountain, above and below, have been passed down as beloved national treasures.