Višňové, Czech Republic


Current Name: Višňové

Historical Name: Wischenau (German; the name means sour cherry)

Population: 1067 on Jan 1, 2022 (717 in 1869)

Village websites: https://www.visnove.cz/ and http://historie.visnove.cz/. The village of Višňové can also be found on Facebook.

Vital records: https://www.mza.cz/actapublica/

Virtual tour available

Submitted by Evelyn Funda

Located in Southern Moravia District (Jižní Morava Okres) of the Czech Republic, about 40 km north of the Austrian Border, 20 km northeast of the district capital of Znojmo, 40 km southwest of Brno, and 200 km south of Prague.

Višňové is a small village located in the picturesque landscape of Southern Moravia. The surrounding countryside features gently rolling hills that open to flat expanses of wheat fields. Twisting roads take you through colorful nearby villages and past wine cellars tucked into little hills and the occasional Boží muk, the charming, old wayside shrines that stand at the edges of fields or even sometimes in the middle of them.


This was the village where my mother was born, the last of ten children, in 1926, and I’ve been able to trace family in this village back to the early eighteenth century. Today dozens of my first and second cousins still live either in the village or in the surrounding area. While it’s not easy to reach this somewhat remote village (From Prague, it takes me two trains, a bus, and relative’s car), each time I visit, they open their arms and homes to me, their American cousin, and we toast with glasses of local wine or homemade Ořechkova (a green walnut liquer) to the gamboling tune of “Živijó!”

Earliest written records mentioning Višňové date to 1234, although archeological evidence proves that the area had been occupied by Slavs since the eighth century. The village’s early Gothic chapel, the church of St. John the Baptist, dates from the second half of the thirteenth-century; however, it has undergone many architectural changes and additions since then. Inside the little church is a choir loft right above the entry, which means their voices waft over the congregants from above and behind. Along one side of the sanctuary right next to the pews are carved Renaissance tombstones from the sixteenth and seventeenth-centuries that show the likenesses of local nobles, and so it seems like those people are part of every church service.


Also of architectural note in Višňové is the manorial castle that stands on the grounds of the thirteenth-century fortress. Rebuilt in the late 1600s as a Baroque two-story chateau with a mansard roof and an onion-shaped tower, the castle has been home to generations of nobles. For instance, in 1835 Count Ferdinand Otto Herman von Spiegel-Diesenberg purchased the chateau, expanded the gardens, and planted rare trees and plants that he had brought back from his world travels. After World War II, the castle became a retirement home for nuns, then an orphanage, and today, it is a privately-run, residential school for young boys. The castle grounds, with the old Lebanese cedar and Japanese jerlin trees, are still open to the public and serve as the village park where the village holds its outdoor summer film festival.

The village’s general website is a fine resource for observing the daily life of the citizens; for instance, you can see photos from the annual autumn observance where the church is decorated with beautiful mosaics made from the harvested produce. A related website is devoted to the history of the village, and if you access the website via the Google Chrome browser, you can read much of it in translation. This website is a boon for genealogists and those researching cultural history of Moravia. There, you can read sections focused on archaeology, the church’s priests, the noble families who lived at the castle, typical occupations of the area, innovations made at the nearby plant breeding station, pilgrimages routes, the history of the cinema in the village, the rise of New Baptists in Southern Moravia, history of, and the effects of the World Wars (including the last-ditch bombing of the village on May 7, 1945, the day before the village’s liberation), and more.

Folk Custom
The history website also features the writings of Dr. Norbert Mrštík, the physician who practiced in the village between 1901-1904. Mrštík’s letters to his family offer a rich glimpse into the lives and customs of local people at the beginning of the twentieth century, and in one of these letters, he describes the village’s traditional welcoming ceremony. As he and his young bride approached the village that first evening, he was stopped at the outskirts by young men with lanterns. They asked him for five crowns as payment to accompany him into the village, and in exchange for the coins, he and his wife were given cups of wine and escorted into town by the parade of singing villagers with their bright lanterns. More villagers, even some with their babes in arms, awaited him outside of the brightly lit house where he would live. They had brought with them a small fir tree, decorated with sugared treats, as a token of good luck. Before the village bid him goodnight, his escorts returned is five crowns to him as token that he was part of the village now. This welcoming folk custom was only used to greet honored visitors and new arrivals, and in describing it in such detail, Mrštík preserved a unique and colorful aspect of village life. This and Dr. Mrštík’s other letters from his time in Višňové are archived in the National Literature Memorial in Prague Strahov.

Other Nearby Points of Interest
Eighteen kilometers away and visible from Višňové are the eight towers of the Dukovany Nuclear Power Station, which was the first nuclear plant built in what is now the Czech Republic. The station provides more than 14 terawatts of energy to the national power grid, and it does have a visitor’s center, though I’ve never been.  

Višňové’s is situated in Moravia’s popular wine region, and in summers, the village’s small penzion hosts the frequent bicyclers who travel through this scenic countryside, enjoying nearby natural and historic sites and seeking out the region’s many vineyards and wineries. One of the bike tours that features Višňové can be found at https://www.visnove.cz/pro-turisty/vylet-na-kole/.