Within a dark cave in Kunštát, Czechia, 16 sculpted knights appear to be sleeping. The sculptures depict an old Czech legend, about an army of soldiers asleep under Blanick mountain, who awoke only when their country was in serious danger and in need of rescue.
The knights were created by a young local man named Stanislav Rolínek. An upholstery worker by trade, he was a talented self-taught sculptor, who created remarkable works before the end of his tragically short life; he died in 1931 from tuberculosis before his 30th birthday, and before completing the Blanik knights.
Rolínek chose this sandstone cave for its secluded location, where he could work without being watched by anyone. The sculptures inside are impressive, both for their large size and realistic look. A statue of St. Wenceslas, the commander of the legendary sleeping army, is depicted on horseback. Guarding the entrance of the cave is another statue, of a giant lion.
Rolínek’s first work on this spot was actually a larger-than-life statue of Thomas Masaryk, the first president of independent Czechoslovakia. It stood 34 feet high (10.5 meters), but unfortunately was destroyed during World War II. Only the boots of the original statue remain. Luckily, the knights in the cave were untouched, and have stayed in their sleeping state up to this day.
Know Before You Go
Best visited with your own transport. The complex is open Tuesday through Sunday, from 9 a.m to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.