The assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, one of the most powerful figures in the Nazi regime, in Prague in 1942 sent shockwaves through occupied Europe. Codenamed Operation Anthropoid, this dangerous mission was carried out by Czechoslovak paratroopers Jan Kubiš and Josef Gabčík. The events leading up to and following this historic operation are both dramatic and significant, shaping the course of World War II.
I wanted to put together a self-guided tour of the main sites that were featured in Operation Anthropoid so that you can follow it and explore this still very recent and poignant history.
How to plan your visit to Operation Anthropoid locations
I have visited all the sites in this self-guided tour, but I’ve done it over the course of a few days. All the sites are within easy reach from the centre using Prague public transport, which is frequent and super affordable, but to visit them all you’d need more than one day. Depending on what time you have or how much you’d like to see, I’d suggest the following options.
If you are short of time, the National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror and the Ss. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral is the closest to the centre of Prague and you can even walk there from the Old Town Square (about 20 minutes).
Day 1 – National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror + the Ss. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral + The Operation Anthropoid Memorial in Libne + Army Museum (just the Second World War exhibition)
Day 2 – Lidice Memorial + Museum + New Lidice House (1/2 day if only visiting memorial)
Day 3 – Velke Brezany (1/2 day)
National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heydrich Terror and the Ss. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral
This memorial commemorates the brave Czechoslovak parachutists who assassinated Reinhard Heydrich, a high-ranking Nazi leader, in 1942. After the assassination, the parachutists were sheltered in the crypt of the cathedral by the Czech Orthodox Church. Unfortunately, the Nazis discovered their hiding place and none of the parachutists survived the ensuing shoot-out.
You can visit the crypt, where you can still see the bullet holes and shrapnel marks visible on the walls. I found particularly haunting the experience of standing still in the crypt, listening to the distant cars and people traffic outside the church, thinking this is what the people there might have heard as well when they were hiding there.
The memorial has a small museum that exhibits artefacts related to the assassination and the resistance movement, including weapons, documents, and personal belongings of the parachutists.
It’s also worth visiting the church of St. Cyril and Methodius upstairs, where you can see the original entrance to the crypt underneath.
Insider Tip: The memorial is open every day apart from Mondays, all year round. Because it’s free and on the educational curriculum of Czech schools, it can get quite busy. The place (as you can imagine) is very small, so if you see that it’s busy inside, it’s worth coming back later after 3 or 4 pm when the day visitors and schools have already gone.
- Location: Resslova 9a, New Town, Prague 2 – walking distance from Charles Square – Karlovo Namesti tram stops or underground stops.
- Opening Times: Tuesday until Sunday: 9 am – 5 pm (closed on Mondays)
- Entry: Free
The No. 7 Resslova Street
As you leave the memorial crypt, walk across the street to number 7 in Resslova Street. This is just one of the houses, that have a plaque to commemorate people who helped Operation Anthropoid and were sadly killed for their role in Heydrich’s assassination. In this case, a couple – Mr & Mrs Jesensky, who were both doctors.
7 Resslova, Prague 1, New Town
Krčma U Parašutistů – The Paratroopers Pub
The pub on the corner doesn’t have a direct link to Operation Antrhorpoid, but it’s decorated in Second World War style. I visited the crypt on a very cold winter day and had a hot chocolate inside to collect my thoughts. The pub serves simple meals too, but it seems more of a drinking pub, than a restaurant.
The wall memorial plague outside the church
Outside the Orthodox Church of St. Cyril and Methodius you can also find a plaque to the brave paratroopers and clergy who died in the crypt. You can still see the gunshots around the lower window of the crypt. If you are travelling to Prague in June, you can join the annual memorial service on the 18 June.
The army museum covers the history of the army in Czech Republic, but it also has several large exhibitions about the Second World War, Lidice and life in the Czech Republic during the war. The whole museum is spread out over several floors, but the exhibitions directly linked to the Second World War are on the first and ground floors.
I enjoyed looking around the museum and I think it’s good to see that the exhibits are presented in an engaging way. The descriptions are both in Czech and English, so you should be able to follow everything.
Insider Tip: The museum has a lovely cafe a the top floor with an outdoor terrace, where you can see the historic centre of Prague and Prague Castle.
- Location: U Pamatniku 2, Zizkov, Prague 3, From the outside the Florenc Main Bus stop – at the underground metro station Florenc (lines C a B) take bus numbers 133, 175 or 207 and get off at the stop U Památníku. You can also take bus number 175 to the same stop from the underground stop Flora on line A.
- Opening Times: Tuesday – Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm (closed on Mondays)
- Entry: Free
The Operation Anthropoid Memorial
The Operation Anthropoid Memorial is in a district of Prague called Liben near the road intersection at Vychovatelna Street. It commemorates the Czechoslovak parachutists who carried out the assassination of the acting Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich on May 27, 1942, under the codename “Operation Anthropoid.”
The monument design is by David Moješčík, Michal Šmeral, Miroslava Tůmová, and Jiří Gulbis. The monument is in a triangular shape resembling the Czech flag, with three figures on the top. These three figures represent an English and Czechoslovak soldier and a civilian, as the success of the operation also depended on ordinary people.
The monument reads: ‘At this place, on May 27, 1942, at 10:35 am, the heroic Czechoslovak parachutists Jan Kubiš and Josef Gabčík carried out one of the most significant acts of resistance in World War II – the assassination of the acting Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich. They could never have accomplished their mission without the help of hundreds of Czech patriots, who paid for their bravery with their own lives.’
This location was specifically chosen because there was a sharp bend in the road and Heydrich’s car had to slow down on its way from his residence in Panenské Břežany to Prague Castle. The parachutists had carefully surveyed the bend in advance, so they knew exactly where to stand.
As the car appeared in their shooting range, a tram was just entering the bend, and the driver of the car had to slow down even further. Gabčík was the first to attack the moving car, attempting to fire a machine gun. Unfortunately, a bullet jammed in the chamber, and the gun didn’t go off. When Heydrich ordered the driver to stop, Kubiš threw a hand grenade towards the car.
Although the grenade did not hit the car directly, it exploded beneath the right rear wheel, seriously injuring Heydrich with its fragments and pieces of the car’s body. The explosion was so powerful that it shattered the windows of the tram. During the initial chaos, both attackers managed to escape. They fled in different directions, one on a bicycle and the other on foot.
Insider Tip: As you are reading the information board look out in front of you and you’ll see the old tram electricity building still standing there in the same place. You can recognise the building on the old photo from the assassination day.
- Location: Městský okruh 43, Prague 8 (about 15-20 minutes by tram to tram stop or bus stop ‘Vychovatelna’, trams number 3,10,24, take the number 3 or 24 from Vaclavske Namesti (Wenceslas Square) stop or the number 10 from Andel or Karlovo Namesti Underground or tram stop.
- Opening Times: Any time
- Entry: Free
Heydrich was immediately transported by a van to the nearby hospital at Bulovka and had surgery in the afternoon. Initially, his condition improved, but at the beginning of June, he got an infection. His weakened body, having had his spleen removed, couldn’t cope with the infection and he passed away on June 4, 1942.
You can see the old buildings of the Bulovka Hospital as you stand at the Operation Anthropoid Memorial in Libne.
- Location: the same as the Anthropoid Memorial
- Opening Times: Any time
- Entry: Free
The Lidice Memorial commemorates a small village outside of Prague, which was razed to the ground by German Nazis on June 10, 1942.
This was revenge for the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, a prominent Nazi official which happened a few weeks earlier in Prague. The Memorial is set on the grounds where the village was and you can walk through the grounds to see the remains of the buildings, cemetery and church.
The memorial was opened in 1969 and also includes a museum, a sculpture garden, and a reconstructed village street. The museum houses a permanent exhibition on the history of Lidice and the massacre, as well as temporary exhibitions on related topics.
The memorial is open for free all year round and entry to the exhibition areas is inexpensive if you wish to visit them.
You can walk around the memorial for free and whilst I really liked the museum too, the walk around the original Lidice village is so moving that you don’t always need more information to make it come alive. The area is quite large and you can walk all the way to the old cemetery on one side and then up the hill to the new Lidice village that was built after the war.
I always like to combine the visit with a walk – the green tourist-marked trail will take you to Bustehrad on one side (plenty of buses back to Prague from there) or to Makotrasy, which is a village that’s also linked to Lidice’s sad story as several men from the village were also tragically killed by the Nazis.
Insider Tip: If you have the time and you are interested in post-war architecture, then visit the new Lidice, including the newly opened house which is styled and decorated from the 1940s-50s. The houses were built for all the people who survived the Lidice massacre. Not everyone wanted to return, but some did. I found it very hard to hold back the tears when the lady who was showing us around mentioned a couple of times ‘My mother had a similar kitchen in her house a few rows back’ or ‘This is what we had too in our living room’. I felt very honoured to be shown the house by somebody who was directly related to the survivor of Lidice.
- Location: Tokajicka 152, Lidice – the Lidice memorial is about 45-60 minutes from the centre of Prague, depending on which connection you get. From the centre of Prague (Staromeska, Malostranska, Mustek) take the A line underground to Nadrazi Veleslavin and then the bus 300, 322 or 324. Ride 4 stops to Pamatnik stop, which is right in front of the memorial.
- Opening Times: Open during the whole year, any time: Monday- Sunday: 10am – 6 pm (closed on Mondays),
- Entry: Free entry to the memorial grounds (inexpensive entry to the exhibitions and free entry to the museum and exhibitions on special days
- 8. 5. 2024 – Victory Day
- 18. 5. 2024 – International Museum Day
- 9. – 10. 6. 2024 – Lidice village burned down
- 9. 9. 2024 – celebrating Lidice village
- 28. 9. 2024 – St.Wenceslas Day
- 28. 10. 2024 – Independence Day
- 11. 11. 2024 – International day of war veterans
Panenske Brezany – Reinhard Heydrich residence during 2WW
The exhibitions in the Upper Chateau in Panenské Břežany mainly focus on World War II and the assassination of Reich Protector Reinhard. Heydrich.
You’ll be able to see period army uniforms, but also a replica of the guillotine used for executions during the occupation period, along with doors from the Pankrác prison. newspapers and correspondence from that time.
The exhibition also includes an original memorial plaque from the house on Porchester Gate in London, UK, where the assassination of Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich was planned. A part of the exhibition is dedicated to this topic, particularly focusing on the events leading to the assassination.
The Upper Chateau in Panenské Břežany (which is where the museum is now) was originally used as a residence for the Benedictine monastery of St. George at Prague Castle and was built at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries.
In the early 18th century, Abbess Františka Helena Pieroni da Galiano of the St. George monastery had the Chapel of St. Anne built near the chateau. The design of the chapel was entrusted to the young talented artist Jan Blažej Santini-Aichel, who for the first time used his signature ‘star-shaped’ design here.
After the monastery’s dissolution, the chateau had several owners from 1820 onwards. In 1909, the upper and lower chateaus in Panenské Břežany were acquired by a Jewish businessman in the sugar industry, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer. In the 1920s, the upper chateau was purchased by Friedrich Gerstel, the owner of a furniture company. Shortly after the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, both chateaus were confiscated and used as residents for prominent Nazis.
The Upper Chateau was occupied by State Secretary and later State Minister for the Protectorate Karl Hermann Frank. The Lower Chateau (which is now private and not open to the public) was occupied by the acting Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich with his wife Lina and their children.
After the assassination of Heydrich in 1942, Lina Heydrich, along with her four children, lived here until the end of the war in 1945. She started a small-scale labour concentration camp in the chateau ground, where around 150 prisoners from the Theresienstadt (Terezin) ghetto and the Flossenbürg concentration camp lived and worked for her in very poor conditions.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
You will need about 1/2 day to visit Panenske Brezany. There are regular buses from Prague – Kobylisy and the bus 373 stops a few metres from the entrance to the chateau. The exhibition, house and exhibition panels and the chapel (optional) will take about 1-2 hrs plus about 2 hrs to get there and back, so at least 4 hrs in total. There are no refreshments or cafes on site and the village is down the hill with very few options for refreshments, so bring packed lunch and drinks.
Insider Tip: The bathroom is in 1930s style and it’s the only part of the house that was restored to its original purpose (and I was definitely glad to see it as there are not a lot of these open to the public). I was also on a summer trail following Santini’s work, so the chapel was a great find!
- Location: Hlavni 11, Panenske Brezany ( 20 minutes by bus 373 from Praha – Kobylisy Underground station – direct bus runs every hour)
- Opening Times: Wednesday – Sunday, 9 am – 12 noon and 12.30 – 16.30 pm (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)
- Entry: 70 CZK museum, 70 CZK chapel and 20 CZK retro bathroom
This blog post was originally written on 28 November 2023 and last updated on 28 November 2023