Daliborka Tower, a famous prison, was fulfilling its function until the end of the 18th century. Initially it was designated only for the nobility but later Daliborka held people of all ranks. It earned its name after Dalibor of Kozojedy – its first inmate. Prague history is full of legends and there is also one about this late-Gothic part of fortifications.
Dalibor was a young knight, who was sentenced to death and imprisoned in tower’s dungeon. What was his misdeed? Well, the crime he committed was to shelter some rebellious serfs. Such an act could not be pardoned and had to be paid for dearly. Dalibor could thus be seen as a kind of Robin Hood for the Czech kingdom under Vladislav Jagiello.
Do you like legends?
According to the legend he learnt to play the violin whilst waiting for his death in the dark inhospitable prison dungeon. Prague people heard him and his touching music awoke in them sympathy. They came to listen to his sad tones, took mercy on him and gave him food and drink. Some say that he was so popular that the authorities feared to announce the date of his execution. Either way one day the violin fell silent… You may have heard that famous Czech composer Smetana turned the idealised story into a famous opera.
For those, who do not believe in legends, there is a “logical” but rather dark explanation about the reasons, why Dalibor became to be associated with the play of the violin. The word violin had also another medieval meaning – it was a torturing device. It was called violin because of its shape with holes for head and arms. Once the procedures started, there was “music” produced by the prisoners. Nevertheless, it was hardly harmonious and miles away from the gentle soft sounds produced by the violin.