Although its interiors are closed until October 2009 for restoration, you'll get a vivid sense of the National Memorial simply from walking around this impressive monument. A hulking mass of concrete that's one of the city's best-known and least-liked landmarks, the immense constructivist block and enormous equestrian statue high up on Vítkov Hill can be seen from around the city.
The memorial was built in 1925 by Jan Zázvorka as a dignified setting for the remains of the legionnaires who fought against the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I. In 1953, though, the communist regime turned it into a mausoleum for Heroes of the Working Class. The mummified remains of Klement Gottwald, the first communist president, were kept here, tended by scientists who unsuccessfully tried to preserve his body for display (Lenin-style) before the project was abandoned and the decaying remains were fobbed off on Gottwald's family in 1990. In front of the memorial stands the massive equestrian statue of one-eyed General Žižka; he was the scourge of 14th-century Catholics and the darling of the communists, who subsequently adopted him in an effort to establish genuine Bohemian credentials.