UNESCO-listed Moravian tradition “Ride of the Kings” in Vlčnov
This weekend the Moravian village of Vlčnov celebrated its most cherished festival of the year: the traditional “Ride of the Kings” which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The traditional Ride of Kings is by no means a quiet event. The central figure of the procession riding a horse down the main street is a young boy. He is the son of a respected local family, must be under the age of 15, and is dressed as a young woman in traditional folk costume and a red, flower-adorned hat, to conceal his identity. He carries a rose in his mouth, so as to remain silent and not give himself away.
This is because, as legend has it, the centuries-old tradition plays out the flight of Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus from Czech King George of Poděbrady in the 15th century. However, nobody knows its exact origins for certain.
The young king is followed by a group of young men also dressed in traditional costume, singing and chanting as the make their way through the village. The festival was added to UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage in 2011 and is a truly fantastic sight.
The Ride of the Kings has survived for hundreds of years, including both world wars and forty years of communism. Today it is practiced in only four Moravian villages: Hluk, Kunovice, Skoronice, and Vlčnov.