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Blaník from south west
|Elevation||638 m (2,093 ft)|
|Parent range||Mladovožická pahorkatina|
Blaník (Czech: [blaɲiːk]) is a mountain emblazoned with legends, in the Czech Republic near Louňovice pod Blaníkem. The hill and surrounding area is a nature reservation. The Blaník massif consists of two forested rocky hills, Great Blaník (638 m) and Small Blaník (580 m).
In the 5th century BC, during the Hallstatt period there was at Great Blaník a Celtic Oppidum in circular shape with two rows of huge stone walls, whose remains are still visible around the top, then later a stronghold and probably a wooden castle. Pilgrimages to the mountain began in 1404. One of the traditions of local residents is an ascent of the mountain on New Year's Eve. In the years 1868-1871 camps were held requesting Czech state law. In 1868 one of the foundation stones of the National Theatre in Prague was taken from the mountain(1750 kg). At the top there stands a 30m-high wooden observation tower from 1941 in the shape of a Hussite watchtower.
At the top lie the remains of a medieval castle. At Small Blaník (formerly Bare Hill) there are also the ruins of the pilgrimage chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, the construction of which was completed in 1753. It was then destroyed in 1783 by decree of the Emperor Joseph II. Below it there used to be a cave with a hermit. In the middle of the ruins today there grows a huge old spruce about 160 years old, which is called the "Monk".
An ancient legend says that a large army of Czech knights led by St. Wenceslas sleeps inside the mountain. The knights awaken to help the Motherland when it is in great danger. According to the legend, when this happens, Blaník's trees will dry out but an old, dead oak tree under the mountain will turn green and a small spring by the mountain will become a river. Then during an epic battle between the Czechs and their overwhelming enemy the Blaník knights will come to their aid led by St. Wenceslas on his white horse. The enemy will retreat to Prague where they will finally be defeated. A day in the mountain is as long as a year on the surface.
The legend probably arose in the 15th century based on an event when, miraculously, at the southeast foothills of Blaník, near the village of Býkovice, a larger enemy army was defeated.
The legend says that Good King Wenceslas and his knights will rise from their slumber when the Czechs are attacked by a number of armies equal to or greater than four (from four cardinal directions).
Since 1989, St. Wenceslas Celebrations are held on his feast day, September 28th. St. Wenceslas, on a white horse, accompanied by his troops, comes from the mountain to the square in Louňovice, where the celebrations are.
In popular culture
Alois Jirásek portrayed the Blaník legend in his Ancient Bohemian Legends. The mountain and its symbolism also provides a theme for a number of musicians and painters in the 19th century. In the Jára Cimrman's comedy play Blaník, it was shown that this legend could not be true because in 1968 at the end of the Prague Spring Czechoslovakia was attacked by five armies of the Warsaw pact and "in Blanik not a single leg moved".