Monday, May 31, 2010

Ride of the Kings

On the last Sunday of May, the village of Vlčnov plays host to Jízda králů (Ride of the Kings). This festival has been held every year for over 200 years. It even took place during WWII.

Vlčnov is in south eastern Moravia, near the Slovak border, at the base of the White Carpathian Mountains. It’s about two hours from Brno. You have to take a bus or a train to Úherský Brod. Then it’s another 7 km by bus or taxi to get to Vlčnov. It's a village so no trams, trolleys or metro.

A young boy from the town is selected to be the king. He’s dressed as a girl, with a rose in his mouth, and rides a white horse. The king is guarded by two 18-year old guys with drawn swords. Other guys on horses solicit donations while calling out “Na krála, na krála!” (For the king!)

This year the king was 12-year old Roman Hruboš.

The custom used to be observed throughout most of Moravia. But now it is only held in Vlčnov. UNESCO is going to mark the Ride of the Kings as a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.

Jízda králů comes from the days of the Bohemian-Hungarian War. In 1469, Jiří of Poděbrady , the King of Bohemia, defeated Matthias Corvinus, his son-in-law & the King of Hungary. It must have been one heck of a family feud. The story goes that in order not to be recognized, Corvinus dressed up as a woman, covered his face with ribbons and headed home. His guards collected money from serfs along the way to feed him.

The "parade" lasted about an hour and ended in the center of town. There was also traditional costumes and folk music.


  1. Very cool. Thanks for sharing that.

  2. Hi Chris,

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    I've linked to you from my new Prague food and drink blog :

    Would you mind linking to me in return?