Cyril and Methodius Route – Cultural Route of the Council of Europe

Trails in Czechia

Velehrad – an important pilgrimage site

Velehrad is an important pilgrimage site in the Czech Republic. The pride of the parish is the Baroque basilica with the adjacent buildings of the former Cistercian monastery. In 1927 the local church was granted the title and privileges of a minor basilica (basilica minor). Velehrad is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Moravia. Its history began more than 800 years ago, when the first 12 Cistercian monks came to the valley of the Salaška River to build their monastery near the village of Veligrad (today’s Staré Město). It was on the basis of its location that the monastery got its name and soon became the bearer of a much older spiritual tradition, which dates back to the 9th century, when the Slavic heralds Constantine and Methodius came to Moravia. The significance of the pilgrimage site of Velehrad therefore lies not in its local, but in its intellectual relationship to the centre of the apostolic activity of the Slavic heralds. That is why in the past it was called the “Moravian Bethlehem.” And so, for centuries, thousands of pilgrims have flocked to Velehrad, joined in 1990 by Blessed Pope John Paul II. We come here to touch our roots, not only spiritual roots, but also national roots in an inward way. Velehrad is also seen as a space for dialogue between the cultures of East and West.

Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and Saints Cyril and Methodius

The heart of the Velehrad pilgrimage site is the Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and Saints Cyril and Methodius. Originally a late Romanesque building from the first third of the 13th century, it took on a Baroque appearance as a result of the disasters of war and especially the fire of 1681. Inside the richly decorated basilica there are several spiritual focal points that no visitor to this sacred space should miss: The altar around which Christians gather to celebrate the liturgy, the chapel of Our Lady Mother of Christian Unity with the Palladium of Velehrad, the tomb of Archbishop Antonín Stojan in the Royal Chapel and, most recently, the sarcophagus of Cardinal Tomáš Špidlík SJ in the presbytery of the basilica, decorated with magnificent mosaics. We can also highlight the sculpture of Saints Cyril and Methodius on the right side of the altar, which canonized the perception of the image of the Thessalonian brothers in the eyes of our ancestors, and the painting of the saints by the Polish painter Matejka, donated for the basilica in 1885.

Former Cistercian monastery

The complex of monastery buildings houses the Stojan Gymnasium and the Vincentinum Institute of Social Welfare. The Information Centre can arrange a tour of the Salle Terrena with Baroque frescoes and the Slavic Hall, which are located in the former monastery.

Sala terrena

The hall of the Velehrad monastery was built in 1724 -1728 as part of the construction of the new prelature of the monastery. The hall is decorated with frescoes depicting the four seasons in the form of allegorical figures and mythological scenes. These are complemented by corresponding biblical motifs.

Church of the Epiphany

“Cyrilka” is a small church built in the 13th century at the monastery gate for the pre-monastery inhabitants. It fell into disrepair in the 19th century and was restored in the neo-Gothic style on the occasion of the Jubilee of Cyril and Methodius in 1863. In 1929, an iconostasis was installed to allow the celebration of the Eastern liturgy. Currently, the chapel has been completely renovated and seasonal exhibitions are installed.

Velehrad House of Saints Cyril and Methodius

Former farm buildings of the Velehrad monastery. Its premises are accessible within the framework of the services provided by this building (permanent exhibitions of the Velehrad Museum, confectionery, bookstore).

Remains of a medieval Cistercian monastery

Ambit, chapter hall, baroque crypts. The space is part of the new exhibition Velehrad at the Crossroads of European History.

A set of small sacral monuments in the immediate vicinity of the monastery

The Chapel of St. Vendelin with a statue of the saint by F. Hirnl, a Baroque Marian column, a sculpture of St. Bernard and St. Luitgard by O. Schveigl, the Chapel of St. John of Nepomuk from 1715 by the Baroque bridge over the Salaška stream, statues of St. John of Nepomuk by the road to the cemetery and in the village square, the statue of the Son of God at the crossroads between Velehrad and Modra (free, individual tours available). Velehrad cemetery with the grave of Mons. Šrámek, Cistercians of Velehrad, Slavist J. Vašić, nuns, Jesuits and other personalities.