Founding date: 1205 (order number 547 according to Janauschek)
Date of dissolution: 1784, 1890 – 1950, revival 1990
Filiation / mother monastery: Morimond-Ebrach / Plasy Monastery
Daughter monastery: Smilheim Monastery

Margrave Jindřich founded the first Moravian Cistercian monastery on the banks of the Salaška, in the southern part of the densely wooded Chřiby Mountains in a very favorable location. The Slavic apostles Cyril and Methodius, to whom the monastery owes its current fame as a pilgrimage church, worked here in the 9th century. The Cistercians who settled here from Plasy brought economic wealth and cultivated fruit, wine and hops in particular.

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The monastery was named after the old center of Great Moravia, Veligrad, and was to become the burial place of the Margraves of Moravia. Velehrad is located in the southern part of the Mars Mountains Nature Park (Chřiby). The mountain ranges around the nature park consist of clay and sandstone rocks and are covered with dense deciduous forests.
The five-nave Romanesque monastery church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary was consecrated in 1228 in the presence of the Czech king Přemysl Otakar I. After the monastery was destroyed by fire during the Hussite Wars, it was rebuilt between 1587 and 1592 under Abbot Eckardt von Schwoben. It was again badly damaged during the Thirty Years’ War and in 1681. Between 1685 and 1735, the Italian Baroque master builder Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed the magnificent new construction of today’s monastery church. After the abolition of the monastery in 1784, the church initially served as a village church and was soon left to decay. In 1890, the facility became the property of the Jesuit order, which
founded a church grammar school. In 1928, the monastery church was elevated to the status of basilica minor under Pope Pius XI. During the communist regime, the monastery was dissolved again in 1950, but was returned to the Jesuits after 1990. In the same year, Pope John Paul II visited the monastery. Thanks to its connection to the legacy of Cyril and Methodius, Velehrad is now one of the country’s most important pilgrimage sites.

Text: MAS Buchlov/Cisterscapes / Photo: MAS Buchlov

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