National Monument at Vitkov
When people think of Vitkov Hill most people immediately think of the Massive equestrian statue (largest in the world) of Jan Zizka that is located in the front of the museum that overlooks the city of Prague. The National monument was built between the years of 1927-1932 to honor the creation of the Czechoslovakian state and its history. Vitkov Hill has played an important role in several events in Czech history. Vitkov Hill was first mentioned as being used as a vineyard during the 1300s under the rule of Charles IV. Later it was used in a battle against the Roman Empire and a rallying point for the Hussites against Roman occupation. In 1918 when an independent Czechoslovakia was created there was a desire to create a place that celebrates the rich Czechoslovakian history. The hope was to create a place that housed a library, archive, and museum. However, more recently the monument had been used by occupying forces such as the Nazis and Soviets. During World War II the monument was seized by the Germans and everything of any value such as metals and artwork was confiscated. From 1942 until the end of the war the Nazis used it as an administration building and storage facility. It is rumored that once the Nazis heard of the plan to create the equestrian statue of Jan Zizka the model had to be broken into little pieces and be hidden from the Gestapo who were eager to find it and destroy it. The sculpture was finally created at the end of World War II and the hope is that it would be used as a tribute to resistance movements in Czech history. The Soviets had different ideas and under their occupation of Czechoslovakia, the National monument was used for propaganda by the communist regime and prominent communist leaders in Czechoslovakia were buried there. In 1953 the Soviets decided to turn the monument into a mausoleum for Klement Gottwald the first communist leader of Czechoslovakia. His body was on display from 1953-1962. Today the monument is home to some wonderful pieces of Czech history and is specifically focused on five key milestones: the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, the Munich period in 1938 and the end of Czechoslovakia in 1939, the revival of Czechoslovakia in 1945 and the communist takeover three years later, the foundation of the Czech and Slovak Federation in 1968, and the fall of communism in 1989 together with the split of Czechoslovakia in 1992.