Prague Castle. Castle in Prague, Czech Republic

Prague Castle

Castle in Prague, Czech Republic

Prague Castle Photo © honzasterba

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Prague Castle

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	Prague Castle
Prague Castle. Photo by Tjflex2
The Prague Castle, dating from 880, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With an area of almost 70,000 m², it is the largest castle complex in the world and the city’s most famous attraction.

The first walled-building was the Church of Virgin Mary. Other churches, dedicated to St. George and St. Vitus, were founded in the first half of the 10th century. The Prague Castle experienced one of its greatest periods during the reign of Charles IV in 14th century, when it became the seat of the Holy Roman Emperor.

With more than 1,000 years of architectural styles represented – from Romanesque to Art Nouveau, Gothic to Neo-Classical and Baroque to Renaissance – you will be impressed.

The changing of the Prague Castle's guard takes place every hour, but the best time to watch the changing of the guards is at noon when a special musical rendition is given. You can also visit the Prague Castle gardens between April 1st and October 31st.

What to See

St. Vitus Cathedral

St. Vitus Cathedral is one of the most eye-catching monuments inside the castle walls, and shelters numerous historic and artistic gems, such as the crown jewels, mausoleums for the kingdom’s greatest figures, precious Venetian mosaics and beautiful stained glass windows. It took 600 years to complete the cathedral; the central nave was only concluded in 1929. Be sure not to overlook the stained-glass windows by the Czech Art Nouveau artist, Alfons Mucha, and the stairs leading down to the Royal Crypt. It houses remains of past Czech leaders such as Charles IV, Rudolf II, and Wenceslas IV.

St. Vitus Cathedral -
	Prague Castle
St. Vitus Cathedral - Prague Castle. Photo by Tjflex2

Old Royal Palace

Just next to St. Vitus Cathedral sits the Old Royal Palace. The original wooden building with a stone foundation wall was converted into a stone Romanesque palace by Prince Sobeslav in the early 12th century. The palace’s outstanding features are located in its Vladislav Hall, which hosted all sorts of merriments such as balls, markets, and feasts. The exhibition, The Story of Prague Castle, which presents the entire history of the castle, can be found on the ground floor of the palace.

St. George's Basilica

St. George's Basilica is located on the square behind St. Vitus Cathedral. The relatively small, thousand-year old, Romanesque-styled basilica is well preserved. As well as containing permanent art exhibitions, the basilica also plays host to regular music concerts. The tombs of members of the Premyslid dynasty of princes are situated in the main nave. If you're short on time or money, visit St. Vitus for free and buy a ticket for St. George's Basilica only.

Powder Tower

The Gothic tower called Mihulka was built in the late 15th century as a part of the new bulwarks. During the rule of Rudolf II, the tower was inhabited by alchemists who were convinced they could turn lead into gold. Afterwards, it was used as a storage for gunpowder - hence the tower's name. The tower is adorned with reliefs of coats of arms and several statues embellish the east and west façades. Have a look through the little windows and enjoy the superb views of Prague.

Prague Castle Picture Gallery

Located on the site of the old stables in the second courtyard, the Castle Picture Gallery contains part of Rudolf’s II art collection. The gallery itself was created in 1965 and houses just a small part of what was, at one time, a collection of over 30,000 pieces of artwork. Among more than 100 unique paintings are works of Titian, Aachen, and Rubens.

The Castle Gardens

There are various gardens, each with their own characteristics; the Royal Gardens, Southern Gardens and the Garden on the Walls. Historically the most valuable of the gardens - the Royal Garden is stretches to the west. The Royal Garden was laid out in 1534 on the orders of the Habsburg, Ferdinand I. From the very beginning, there were situated a number of buildings serving the entertainment of the nobility: the Ball Game Pavilion, the Royal Summer House, the Lion Court.

Golden Lane - Prague
	Castle
Golden Lane - Prague Castle. Photo by Paul

Golden Lane

This picturesque alley runs along the northern wall of the castle. With a history of being home to alchemists in the 16th and 17th century, as well as those in the imperial entourage, it is now a quaint and charming little street with spectacular sights. From 1916 to 1917, house No. 22 was inhabited by the writer, Franz Kafka. The Golden Lane is narrow and can get quite crowded, so the best time to visit is the late afternoon when the crowds are already gone.

Visiting

The castle grounds, gardens, and much of the cathedral are free to enter. Tickets can be purchased once you enter the main gate. There are two basic unguided tickets to Prague Castle, the long tour and the short tour. Tickets are valid for two days (the day of the purchase and the following day). You'll also be able to purchase an audio tour, which is very good and well worth the few extra Korunas if you want to know about the background and significance of certain aspects of Prague Castle.

The grounds of the Prague Castle are open daily from 05:00 AM to 24:00 PM. St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, St. George's Basilica, the Powder Tower, Golden Lane and Daliborka are open from 09:00 AM to 17:00 PM. The Royal Gardens of Prague Castle are open from 10:00 AM to 18:00 PM. The visit takes about 3 hours.

Getting There

Access to Prague Castle is easy. There are several tram stops nearby (Královský letohrádek, Pražský hrad, Pohořelec) and also two metro stations (Malostranská, Hradčanská). The visitors mostly take tram No. 22 (the stop is called Pražský hrad) or metro station Malostranská. If you would like to do it on foot, you can walk up the Nerudova street from Malostranské náměstí and at the top, take a sharp right onto Ke Hradu. You will end up in front of the main entrance to the castle.

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Author: Ayda. Last updated: Dec 22, 2014

Pictures of Prague Castle

Prague Castle - Prague Castle
Prague Castle - Photo by jim crossley

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