In the seemingly dull and flat landscape around Brno you will hardly find a more mysterious and spiritual place. The Brno–Pohorelice highway takes you from the hustle and bustle of the Moravia’s capital to the vast and peaceful lowland of The Svratka river plain. Soon your eyes will fall upon a remote blue silhouette of Palava ahead of you, while on the left emerges the fascinating open country which has been home to people for ages.
The fertile basin fed by the Svratka river and its many branches and feeders since time immemorial, the vital plain bathing in warm sunshine, is bordered with Rajhradska pahorkatina to the southwest, Zdanicky les to the east and a highly visible cone of the Vyhon hill. The lace of the White Carpathians visible on the horizon in the distance connects the earthly world with heavens.
Right at your hand lies a country resembling the fabulous Eden, a garden scattered with groves, game reserves, woods, colourful fields, orchards and vineyards. The Svratka river with its slow flow and silver branches measures the infinite and irreversible time. It bears messages of the generations that used to live and die here for five thousand years. Its water used to water the fields and soil which was then transformed into pottery.
Even in their wildest dreams the Slavs could not imagine that their future land would look like this when, in the second century, they moved from their old and much rougher homeland westwards. In the fifth century they set foot here for the first time and they decided to stay. They gradually built their settlements and created a powerful state whose centre lied in this very area. It was called Great Moravia. To defend themselves against their invasive enemies they built massive fortified settlements. One of the twelve most important of them grew here. Carefully hidden among the forests and swamps it was accessible only to locals and those who knew the path. The settlement was obviously called Rajhrad, which is a blend of Czech words for “heavenly” and “castle”. Nameless villages started to grow around which undoubtedly maintained very lively economic and social contacts with Rajhrad.
Once upon this golden age two brethren found themselves walking through this heavenly country. Coming from Salonica – Constantine and Methodius – as they were called, brought with them a language and scripture that would edify the people for ages. Sadly, cruel turns of events swept the empire into the past, yet it arose from its ruins to flourish again. Bretislav I, who took Moravia away from the Poles and Hungarians, gave the old and abandoned castle to the Benedictines in the mid-eleventh century. He also gave them surrounding villages, amongst which there were Rajhrad, Rajhradice, Opatovice, Popovice and later also Holasice. The Rajhrad castle then declined and a Benedictine monastery was built on its ruins that would take over both its name and role. The monastery has become the centrepiece of the country which it inherited from the people of Great Moravia and has been its gem, both spiritual and architectonic, for centuries.