The famous round defence tower called Daliborka terminates the northern fortification zone built in the late 15th century by King Vladislav II Jagiello. This tower was built in 1496 by the famous royal architect Benedikt Reid, and used to be higher than it is today. In 1781 it was severely damaged by a great fire and during the course of the following reconstruction, which was started in 1790, the tower was lowered. Its present appearance dates back to 1965. The Daliborka tower is 20.7 meters high.
The tower was named after its its first prisoner Dalibor of Kozojedy who was imprisoned here as a penalty for offering protection to the rebelling serfs on the neighbouring estate. As you can see the turret also served as a prison. The top of the tower was used for prisoners who were found guilty of minor crimes. This space was divided by wooden walls and, surprisingly, it was heated. The prisoners condemned for more serious crimes used to be imprisoned in the basement. Daliborka tower was used as a prison until the great fire in 1781.
Dalibor Of Kozojedy
Its most famous prisoner was undoubtedly the previously mentioned Dalibor of Kozojedy. In 1496 a great uprising broke out in Litoměřice. The liege people captured a fortress which belonged to their lord, Adam Ploskovsky from Drahonice, and under threat of death forced him to give them their freedom. After this uprising the poor people joined Dalibor of Kozojedy who had protected them. Unfortunately, Dalibor’s kindness was good for the people but not for him. The justice found him guilty of breaking the law, imprisoned him, and later sentenced him to death. The sentence was carried out in front of the Daliborka Tower.
According to the legend, Dalibor learnt to play the violin whilst awaiting death in the dark, inhospitable prison dungeon. The people of Prague, hearing his beautiful music, felt sympathy for him, and as they came to listen to him play, took pity on him, and gave him food and drink. Some legends say that he was so popular that the authorities were afraid of announcing the date of his execution. Either way, one day the violin fell silent. You may have heard of the famous Czech composer, Bedřich Smetana, who was inspired by this story and used it as the theme of one of his most outstanding operas.
Another Meaning Of The Violin
For those who do not believe in legends, there is a “logical”, but rather dark explanation of the reasons, why Dalibor was associated with playing the violin. In the Middle Ages, the word violin also had another meaning – it was an implement of torture. It was called violin because of its shape with holes for the head and arms. Once the ‚procedure‘ started, “music” was produced by the prisoners. Nevertheless, it was hardly harmonious, and certainly miles away from the gentle, soft tomes of a real violin.
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