- Take the Prague Castle Walking Tour
History of Prague CastlePrague Castle has a long history that is integral to the development of Prague. It originally dates to the 9th century, but various royal and religious structures were added during the next several centuries, which accounts for the different architectural styles found within the Prague Castle complex. Over time, parts of the castle were damaged by fires, war, and neglect and subsequently repaired under the auspices of ruling individuals. At the beginning of the 20th century, Prague Castle became the seat of the president of what was then the Czechoslovak Republic. Today, it's the seat of the Head of State of the Czech Republic.
Prague Castle, besides being a government seat and a major tourist attraction, is also a stronghold for Czech national treasures. The Czech Crown Jewels are secured in St. Vitus Cathedral, and access to them can only occur when the individual holders of seven keys come together to facilitate the opening of the locks behind which the Czech Crown Jewels are secured.
Where is Prague Castle?Prague Castle is located in the Castle District of Prague. The Castle District pulls its name from both Prague Castle and the number of palaces that can also be found in this neighborhood. The Castle District overlooks Mala Strana, or the Lesser Quarter, which can be found on the west bank of the Vlatva River within the historic center of Prague.
Prague Castle can be reached by a set of steep stairs from Thunovská street that will take you directly to the castle. Or, you can wend your way up the sloping streets of Mala Strana until you find yourself in the Castle District. At this point, any map of Prague will help orient you. Barring that, ask a passerby to point you in the right direction. Prague Castle, which opens onto Castle Square, can't be missed with its Gate of Giants flanked by guards.
Admittance to Prague CastleYou'll have to purchase a ticket to enter the buildings at Prague Castle, but note that the Castle Grounds are free to visit. Tickets can be purchased once you enter the main gate. You'll also be able to purchase an audio tour of the buildings and grounds, 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. Plan your visit carefully so you get the most out of this opportunity to explore one of the world's largest castle complexes.
Exploring Prague CastlePrioritize the aspects of Prague Castle that you most want to see. Because the castle complex is so large, you might not be able to cover it thoroughly in one day. If you have only one day or care to spend limited time at Prague Castle, be sure to work St. Vitus Cathedral into your visit. This cathedral is not only a stunning example of Gothic architecture – it also houses fine artistic masterpieces.
Other sights at Prague Castle include:
- Golden Lane and Daliborka Tower
- Old Royal Palace
- Basilica of St. George
- Convent of St. George
- Powder Tower
- Prague Castle Picture Gallery
If you like art, the Prague Castle Picture Gallery might be worth a look. The history of the castle is explained in an exhibit in the Old Royal Palace, which peels back layers of architecture and reveals artifacts from the castle's earliest days. Golden Lane, with its colorful facades, houses souvenir shops and an armory exhibit. Daliborka Tower, where torture instruments are on display, is the most gruesome part of the castle.
The changing of the Prague Castles guard takes place every hour. You can also visit the Prague Castle gardens between April 1st and October 31st.