Prague castle is one of the most popular attractions in the city. It is huge as well very impressive, and unites a lot places of interest on one hill. That’s why I did my best to compile as much useful information about Prazsky Hrad as you need to have to discover the place and enjoy every minute spend there.
In 2016 due to safety reasons at every entrance to Prague Castle security services installed special metal gates to check every person entering the castle. If you come in wrong time, you will have to wait in the queue about an hour or even two.
The history of Prague castle begins from the IX century and the name of Prince Borivoj, who built on the hill of the left bank of the river a new house for Premyslid family. The original construction had nothing to do with what we see now. Only in some places archeologists managed to save some ruins dating back to that times.
Among all the buildings in the castle these are St. Geogre and St. Vitus that were founded in the X century and still exist. And that was the times when not only the royal family started to reside there, but also Prague bishop.
But the best times for Prague Castles came with the King of Bohemia and the Emperor of Holy Roman Empire Charles IV. He made of Prague the capital of this Empire and due to this fact the main castle of the city was reconstructed. Moreover it was the time when they started the construction of St. Vitus Cathedral. Though after a lot of positive moments came wars.
- These were Hussite wars that resulted in lots of distractions of constructions, political and economical life of the country.
With a new dynasty on Czech throne came new times for Prague Castle. There were Jagellons and it was 1483. We can find quite many construction built in that times: the Powder Tower of the Castle, the New White Tower and Daliborka prison. The architect Benedikt Ried managed to make the castle only only safe, but also beautiful. Vladislav Hall of the Old Royal Palace used to be the most secure hall in Europe of that times built in the Renaissance style.
After Jagellons arrive Habsburgs. And the first thing to do in a new house is reconstruction. And they complete the castle turning it from roman and gothic into renaissance. But for the main palaces appeared: Summer palace, the Ball Game Hall and the Lion’s Court. And moreover according to the latest architecture fashion of that time Royal Garden opens its gate for the royal family. And in the XVI century Rudolf II finishes the northern part of the castle and makes it complete.
In the first half of the XIX century a new monarch arrives in Prague to bring back capital of the Kingdom from Vienna. And a new wave of reconstructions take place. They change the look of Chapel of the Holy Cross, the Spanish Hall and the Rudolph Gallery.
At the beginning of the XX century Czechoslovakia becomes an independent Republic. It happened in 1918 in Republic Square in Municipal House. Hence Prague Castle became the seat of the first president Tomas Garrigue Masaryk. After that times all the reconstructions that take place are made to maintain the old buildings, but also to let visitors see more and more places of the castle.
What to see?
The list of attraction of Prague Castle is huge. There are churches, museums, galleries, palaces, streets and other objects worth your time. That is why I would like to share the informations about the most essential and really unique, so that you don’t waste your time on searching.
Change of guards
Change of guards in Prague castle is a daily “show” for tourists. It takes place at noon and every hour between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. in Summer and 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. in Winter. The 12 hour change of guards is a big one with lots of people involved into the process. What concerns other changes, they take place in 3 places at once: near the Black Tower, at the entrance to the second yard and from the side of Royal Gardens.
Do you remember, what I wrote above about the crowds and queues? If you are really keen on such military things as change of guards, make sure, that you come to Prague Castle at least 2 hours before the time it starts, so that you go through the security check and find the best place to see the “show”.
Old Royal Palace
Old Royal Palace today is represented with Vladislav Hall, where one can see amazing mixture of roman twisted arches with rectangular renaissance windows. The size of the hall is 62 to 16 meters and to protect the original floor they put a special carpet of which you can walk during the sightseeing tour.
This part of the Royal Palace served as a party place. Various events and competitions took place there. Since the XVIII century the hall serves as a place for official meetings and celebrations.
Exhibition “The history of Prague Castle”
If you feel like going deeper into the history of Prague Castle, you should visit the exhibition: “The history of Prague Castle”. There you will see a lot of old photos of the excavations that took place near St. Vitus Cathedral and around the castle.
This tour is a perfect opportunity to see how royal families of different periods used to live. Also there are original exhibits from the X century, which narrate the visitors the history of Prague and Czechia. Numerous official documents also serve as a means of discovery.
- You can see original hamlet of St Wenceslas
St. George Basilica
St. George Basilica in Prague Castle is a very easy to recognize building. The facade looks very baroque and at the back of the building there are two roman towers. It is the oldest construction of the castle, which dates back to 921.
The duke Vratislav ordered to build the church and further he was buried there. After, in 973 the church became also the first Benedikt monastery of Prague. Those monks were the teachers in royal families.
Unfortunately, what we see know as St. George Basilica, is quite a modern building. Only few parts of under the southern tower are original. After great fire the church was rebuilt in 1142. And in the XVII century a new baroque facade was made.
Golden Line in Prague Castle is one of the favorite attraction for most of the visitors. If you don’t feel like buying a ticket to see the Zlata Ulicka, come there after 5 p.m. The shops will be closed, but you will have a chance to see the Golden Street.
There are numerous legends and stories about the origin of the Golden Line. Originally these were the guards who lived in the tiny houses. It was in the XVI century, when Prague Castle got a lot of new buildings during the reconstruction of the walls. Though there is another legend, telling us about Alchemists residing at this hood.
They were doing their best do invent elixir of eternal youth and to find philosophical stone, which would give them a chance to turn any metal into gold. And already in our times there used to live famous people. For example Franz Kafka.
Powder Tower Mihulka
Powder Tower Mihulka is another example of engineers genius of old times. It was reconstructed in the XV century after the fire in 1541. During the reign of Rudolf II this tower served as a laboratory. After it was a powder stock and the prison. In the XVIII century the guards of St. Vitus Cathedral used to live there.
In 1649 during the war with Sweden Mihulka Powder Tower was completely destroyed. It was a huge exposure that also damaged the building of St. Vitus Cathedral. And today in the tower you will find several exhibitions closely linked with the history of this construction.
St Vitus Cathedral
St Vitus Cathedral is one of the most significant parts of Prague Castle. Even if you don’t plan to buy a ticket for a tour around the castle, you absolutely have to visit the main church of Czechia. Only think of the date, when they began to build it – 1344 – and finished in 1929.
St. Vitus serves not only as a church and huge museum, but also a place where archbishops and kings of the Czech Republic are buried. All the royal jewels and kept in a special room with seven locks. To open them all the 7 most important people of the country should come together.
Southern tower of St. Vitus Cathedral is one of the best view points of the city. In the basement you will see the chapel of Zbynek Zajic from Hazmburk. It was an archbishop, who burned the works of John Wyclef.
The second interesting thing to see in the Southern Tower is the Sigismund bell. It was made in 1559 and decorated with episodes from the Bible by Tomas Jaros.
Going higher you will see the mechanism of two tower clocks.
The lower shows minutes and the upper – hours. That was a typical thing, because it was quite a task to combine in one mechanism both two element. And as a reward for the brave tourists who managed to climb the Souther Tower is a fantastic view over Prague.
Rosenberg palace built between 1545 and 1574. The second owner was Rudolph II and in the XVIII century it was Maria Theresa who got the palace. She made of the building a school for Nobel girls. 30 daughters of Czech aristocrats were brought up there. That institution existed till 1919.
After long walks around the concrete and towers, I recommend visiting one of the most pleasant places in Prague Castle – royal gardens. It unites the following places of interest:
- summer palace of queen Anne also know Letohradek;
- singing fountain;
- royal greenhouse;
- and a lot of sculptures.
Letohradek (Annie’s palace) or as locals say, Belveder is a bright example of Czech renaissance. It starts the history from 1538 when Ferdinand 1 Habsburg decided to give as a present to Anna Jagellonica his wife a private Chateau. Due to the fire of 1541 and death of Italian architect, they completed the construction only in 1563.
Singing fountain dates back to 1568. It was Tomas Jaros, who made it of a special mix of metals: bronze with copper. And why they call it singing? Because the water drops falling on the bowl make melodic sound, which you can hear only getting very close to the fountain.
Walk around, sit on benches, observe and listen. The royal gardens of Prague castle are very unique and inspiring. Find enough time to discover them properly.
Deer moat is a gap between Prague Castle and Royal Gardens. It is a natural moat and to my mind one of the most underestimated place in the area. It is a long and beautiful park with some spectacular observation points.
Deer moat is a ravine stretching along the walls of Prague castle. It is split in to lower and upper moat with a powder bridge. This bridge today has a tunnel. But before the construction looked absolutely different, because the bridge also served as a stock of powder and ammunition.
Hunting was an important part of royal life. Therefore in the ravine lived various animals among which deers were the most popular. That’s why we all know this place as a deer moat.
Prague Castle tickets
To discover Prague castle you can either buy tickets and get inside the attractions described in this article or just walk around the huge territory without entering the places of interest. Both variants are possible. Everything depends on how much time you have to spend in Prague. So the full information about tickets to Prague castle is available in the pictures below.
- Open: 6:00 – 22:00
- Historical buildings: 9:00 – 17:00;
- St. Vitus Cathedral: 9:00 – 17:00; Sunday 12:00 – 17:00;
- Southern tower: 10:00 – 18:00;
- Exhibition “History of Prague Castle”: 10:00 – 18:00;
- Other Exhibitions: 10:00 – 18:00;
- Royal Gardens: 10:00 – 18:00.
Best time to visit
Best time to visit Prague Castle is early morning. As you see the gates open at 6 a.m. So if it is your first visit to the Czech capital, my recommendation is to wake up early and to discover the place with no crowds. Of course, there won’t be any queues to security checks. The whole castle will be just for you.
- We have a special tour with a local guide around Prazsky Hrad.
Believe our experience, for the first visit it is more than enough at least to see and to understand how big and important this place is. If you plan to be in Prague more than 2-3 days, after the tour you will be able to come back, to buy tickets and to discover already the insides of the castle, its churches, palaces and galleries. Look forward to your comments and reviews of the place.