Velehrad Abbey

In 1205 Margrave Vladislav Heinrich founded the first Moravian Cistercian monastery on the right bank of the Salaška. The monastery got its name after the old center of Great Moravia, Weligrad and was to become the burial place of the margraves of Moravia. At the same time the Veligrad settlement was transferred to the monastery. Velehrad is located at the eastern foot of the Mars Mountains (Chřiby), a 335 km2 nature park that is divided into three districts and is characterized by the March river. The mountains themselves consist of clay and sandstone cliffs and are covered by thick deciduous forests.
The five-aisled Romanesque monastery church of the Assumption was inaugurated in 1228. The monastery burned down during the Hussite Wars. It was subsequently rebuilt under Abbot Eckardt von Schwoben between 1587 and 1592, destroyed again during the Thirty Years’ War and in 1681. According to plans by Giovanni Pietro Tencalla, the complex finally got its present shape between 1685 and 1735. After the monastery was closed in 1784, the monastery church initially served as a village church and was later abandoned to decay. In 1890 the facility came into the possession of the Jesuit order, who established a college here. In 1928 the monastery church under Pope Pius XI. raised to the basilica minor. The monastery was closed again in 1950 during the communist regime, but returned to the Jesuits after 1990. In the same year Pope John Paul II visited the monastery. Thanks to its connection to the heritage of Cyril and Methodius, Velehrad is now one of the most important places of pilgrimage in the country.
A trade route once ran through the area from the Adriatic to the Baltic States. Today the South Moravian Way of St. James begins at Velehrad Monastery. From here it runs westwards parallel to the borders of Slovakia and Austria. In Český Krumlov he meets the section of the Camino de Santiago coming from the north of the Czech Republic.