Mala Strana Cemetery
Sandwiched between two busy roads, Plzenska and Vrchlickeho, Mala Strana Cemetery is an oasis of peace and serenity. When taking a closer look, this churchyard resembles more a public park than a cemetery. This cemetery, outside the centre of Prague, is not just a burial place but also a beautiful garden full of sculptures. Almost every grave is adorned with Gothic, Baroque or Neoclassical sculptures. The many trees add to the mysterious and magical feel of the place. The German and Czech inscriptions on the ivy-overgrown tombs are often difficult to decipher because the letters have weathered badly.
Count Leopold Thun-Hohenstein at Mala Strana Cemetery
A five-metre tall burial monument of the Bishop of Passau in Germany, Count Leopold Thun-Hohenstein (1748-1826) catches the visitor’s eye on entering the Mala Strana Cemetery. The count kneels in prayer behind his prayer chair. He spent the last years of his life in Prague where he converted an old farm into a summer mansion where Mozart was a welcome guest.
Frantisek Dusek at Mala Strana Cemetery
The couple Frantisek Dusek and Josephine Duskova are buried in a simple grave. He was a composer, pianist and music teacher and she was a soprano for whom Mozart composed the aria Bella mia fiamma. They lived in Villa Bertramka which is located almost round the corner of this cemetery. During his stay in Prague, Mozart stayed with this couple. Seated in the garden of Bertramka on a stone bench which is still there, Mozart composed the last part of Don Giovanni. This opera premiered on October 28, 1787 in Prague.
Christoph Dientzenhofer at Mala Strana Cemetery
Mala Strana cemetery is also the last resting place of Christoph Dientzenhofer and his son Kilian Ignaz Dientzendorfer, both were architects and builders of about 100 buildings in Prague: churches, convents, palaces and also residences. The most noticable building that father and son designed is the St. Nicholas Church in the Mala Strana district with a striking copper green dome.
The Legend of Anna
In heaven, where new-born children are given their soul, some things went wrong. Instead of the soul of a baby girl, little Anna received the soul of an angel who could now experience first hand what life on earth was like. At the hour of Anna’s birth, the stars twinkled the night sky during the next day the sun shone brightly. The little girl had the gift to talk to animals and birds. She inspired her fellow man to be kind to one another. When she was three years old, she tumbled out of a window, and at that very moment her soul went straight back to heaven.
The Real Anna
Vague letters on the grave spell the name: Anna Degenova. She really existed and was the daughter of Sergeant Augustin Degen and Anna Degenová who are also buried at the Mala Strana cemetery. Legend has it that if a child writes a wish on a piece of paper and puts it on Anna’s grave, that wish will come true.
The Fairytale Story
This fairytale story of little Anna was thought up by Frantisek Kozik, Czech writer and representative of Esperanto, who still needed a story for his collection of short stories that were published in 1942. He used the Rubin surname because he could not read the name on the tombstone and did not bother to find out in the archives what the real name was.
Mala Strana Cemetery
The Mala Strana cemetery is located on the left bank of the Vltava River in the Smichov district. Initially this cemetery was intended for the victims of the plague epidemic which claimed many lives at the end of the seventeenth century in the neighbourhoods of Mala Strana and Hradcany. When at the end of the eighteenth century the cemeteries in the centre of Prague were closed for sanitary reasons, the Mala Strana Cemetery became the regular cemetery. In the mid nineteenth century it was full. From that time on people were buried at the Malvazinky cemetery, which was then far away from the built-up area but is now well within the city boundaries.
All Souls’ Day
Mala Strana cemetery is only a few tram stops away from Andel metro station. The cemetery is full of atmosphere on any time of the year but especially so on 1 November, All Souls’ Day, when hundreds of burning candles disperse a reddish hue. Come back on a winter’s day when a dusting of snow turns the cemetery in a magical mood.