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Prague Castle (Hradčany)


Prague Castle (Hradčany)

Prague Castle is a large complex of palaces and churches. It is the largest castle complex in the world. The first fortress was built in 880 by Duke Bořivoj. That fortress did not resemble the castle you’ll find here today. King Wenceslaus built a small church on the hill in 926. More than 400 years later, Emperor Charles IV ordered the construction of a larger church, the St Vitus Cathedral. Due to wars it would take almost 600 years before the cathedral was completely finished. The St. Vitus Cathedral was not officially consecrated until 1929. The silhouette of Prague Castle is dominated by the towers of the Cathedral: the two oldest towers are 88 metres high, the main tower is 99 metres high. In the main tower there is a large clock: 17 tons heavy, 2 meters high and with a diameter of 2.5 meters.

The long construction time can be seen in the appearance of the church because of the combination of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance styles. The interior is magnificent: the St Wenceslaus Chapel is decorated with rubies and sapphires. It also houses the Crown Jewels, including the crown of King Wenceslaus, which are well secured. St Wenceslaus is buried in the church, as is, among others, Charles IV.

An additional attraction in the castle district is the "Golden Street" (Zlatá ulička). This is called 'Zlatá ulička' because goldsmiths worked in this street. The houses are very small, modern day persons will have a hard time standing tall in them. Franz Kafka lived in the house at number 22 for a short time. In another house you’ll find a small museum with medieval weapons and armour.

In the Old Royal Palace (with the beautiful Gothic Vladislav Hall) you can learn more about the history of the castle complex. Daliborka Tower was a prison, but nowadays it’s a museum of medieval torture techniques. Don’t forget to visit the beautiful gardens of the castle. These gardens are freely accessible. From the Royal Garden (northeast of the Royal Palace) you have a beautiful view of Prague, the Vlatva and some of the popular sights.

The changing of the guard at the main entrance takes place every hour, but at 12.00 it’s a bit more ceremonial with some music.

Good to know

Website: Prague Castle
Address: there are four entrances: Prašný most, Klárov, Malá Strana, Pohořelec.
Opening hours: 09.00-18.00 (opening hours vary by part).

Consult the Prague Castle website for the latest price information and opening hours.

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