The gravestones at Bohnice Cemetery are covered with ivy. The small chapel is in ruins. Ex-patients of the nearby asylum slumber here. So why did Baroness Margaret Thatcher pay a secret visit in 1996?
The 19th Century psychiatric hospital in Bohnice was one of the largest in Europe. Eighty patients a year were buried in the nearby cemetery. In addition to the patients, there are nurses, locals and Italian prisoner-of-war soldiers who caught typhoid in 1916. In the six decades of operation, about 4300 people were buried within the 2.5 hectares.
The cemetery was abandoned in 1963 and became a popular spot for teenagers, ghost hunters and urban explorers. In 1984, director Miloš Forman, used the gloomy atmosphere for a scene for the movie Amadeus.
We entered via a small broken gate to the left of the main entrance.
The place was deserted, just two of us, the gravestones and the remains of the chapel.
It was a warm sunny day, but the place was still creepy.
Baroness Margaret Thatcher Visit
In 1996, Baroness Margaret Thatcher (British Prime Minister 1979 to 1990) visited Prague and met with the then Czech Prime Minister, Václav Klaus. There was no mention of her planned visit to Bohnice Cemetery, only the locals, tending their cottage gardens, knew something was happening when a series of limousines arrived and the Baroness stepped out.
They were looking for a specific grave but were unable to locate it. The story goes that some assistants were sent to a local pub (The Tattooed Ferdu) to find a local derelict who used to drink with the former cemetery manager and knew the burial locations. In exchange for a bottle of rum, he agreed to guide them to the grave.
The remains were identified by the presence of a ring. The body was exhumed and taken back to England. Nobody knows who the person was – rumour has it that it was an ancestor of Denis Thatcher.
We took the metro to Kobylisy (line C) and took a 200 bus to Zhořelecká. Then crossed the street to take a 236 bus to Bohnické údolí. The bus arrives by the orange wall.
We then walked up the hill a few metres until a small entrance to a narrow path on the left.
This continued up and to the left.
and onward along a road with cottages on the right-hand side.
It’s a very picturesque walk. This cottage fence was covered in tea mugs, apparently a reference to a Czech fairy tale.
We turned right soon after this and the entrance to the cemetery is about 200 metres further.
The Pet Cemetery
Not far from the main cemetery there is a Pet Cemetery. Founded by Pavel Lukáš as the ‘Garden of the Most Loyal Friends’ in 1999. It was used to bury animals until the end of 2006. The place appears to be managed by those who have pets buried here https://www.petpieta.cz/
The gate was open.
Toto returned to Oz.
Bohnice was a small village in Prague 8 until a whole new town of paneláks were built and now surround the original village. There is still a large psychiatric hospital and if you say you are going to Bohnice, some may joke and say “see you when you are cured”!