Prague Castle or Praha castle as the locals call it is the largest castle in the world. When you are visiting the Prague Czech Republic you cannot miss a visit to this wonderful castle in Prague with thousands of year of history, one of the magnificent Czech castles.
Top Things to do in Prague – Prague Castle Tour
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Prague castle complex comprises of three courtyards and several eminent buildings of historical importance. There are several castle entrances served by the trams and the metros. The two entrances New Castle Stairs to Hradcanske square and the Old Castle Stairs offer wonderful views over the rooftops of Lesser Town.
Hradcanske Namesti or Hradcanske Square is a large square at the west entrance to Prague Castle opening into the first courtyard. The square is surrounded by several outstanding historical buildings and palaces including the Archbishop Palace, Carmelite Monastery, and the Hradcany Town Hall. The terrace of the square offers spectacular views over the lesser town which can be reached through the New castle stairs from the square.
A 19th-century exemplary candelabra street lamp few of which remains today in Prague with the Sternberg Palace in the background.
One of the well-preserved Renaissance palaces in Prague the Schwarzenberg Palace with exemplary facade embellished with sgraffito and houses the National gallery.
The Ferdinand Brokoff’s plague column which marks the end of 17th-century Plague in Prague also stands in the same square.
Prague Castle First Courtyard – Courtyard of Honor
The entrance to the first courtyard or the Courtyard of Honor is through the ‘Gate of Giants’. The courtyard is the place where the ‘Change of the Guard’ (daily at 12 noon) and several other important ceremonies are held.
From here an elaborate Baroque gate called ‘Mathias Gate’ leads to the second courtyard.
Prague Castle Second Courtyard
The most striking features of the second Courtyard are the Baroque Kohl’s Fountain with its pillar decorated with four lion statues on the pillar, a 17th century well with elegant baroque grill ornamentations and the Chapel of the Holy Cross which houses several important paintings and sculptures and is the venue for exhibition of St. Vitus Cathedral treasury.
The second courtyard has entrance to the fourth courtyard which has a view to the Archbishop Palace and the garden of Bastion, The second courtyard also has an entrance to the Powder Bridge and the Royal Garden and houses the Prague Castle Picture Gallery which houses a great collection of paintings from times of Rudolf II. There is an Information center in the courtyard where one can buy tickets and obtain audio guides.
Prague Castle Third Courtyard
The third courtyard of the Prague castle is the most touristy for the magnificent St Vitus Cathedral and the Old Royal Palace museum.
St Vitus Cathedral
The imposing St Vitus Cathedral is a reminiscence of Cologne Cathedral probably because both are colossal gothic cathedrals. The historical St Vitus cathedral which took around 600 years to complete houses the coronation jewels and has been a venue for royal coronations and resting place of several prominent saints and noblemen. The climb up the cathedral tower offers a breathtaking panoramic vista of the Prague city.
The bronze entrance door depicts the scenes from the Cathedral history and legends of St. Wenceslas. The interior of the cathedral houses the beautiful St Wenceslas Chapel decorated with precious gems and ornate Gothic frescoes. Do not miss the remarkable stained-glass windows of the cathedral.
The third courtyard houses the New Royal Palace which is the office of the President of the Czech Republic. A 16 m granite obelisk stands in the third courtyard erected as a memorial to the first world war victims. There is also a replica 14th-century equestrian statue of Saint George fighting the dragons the original being kept in the National Gallery.
Old Royal Palace Museum
As soon as you enter the old Royal Palace museum in the third courtyard you are greeted with a huge Vladislav Hall with its vault decorated with gorgeous floral patterns and exquisite chandeliers.
The Vladislav Hall has witnessed several historical events like coronation ceremonies and tournaments and is today venue for presidential elections and important state events.
There is an entry to the Rider’s Staircase from where the Knights could enter on horseback, Ludwig wing office of Czech chancellery and All Saints’ Church built over the 14th-century chapter church from the Vladislav Hall.
Prague Castle Charles Hall
The Charles Hall in the third courtyard houses an exhibition of Castle’s history.
The third courtyard also has an entrance to the sightseeing terrace in southern gardens with wonderful view over the red roof tops of the lesser town and the bright dome of St Nicolas.
The Prague Castle is home to several wonderful statues. This is the one we found on the way to Square of St George from the third courtyard.
Below are the other statues we found at the old castle stairs, at Malostranska metro station and the last one is the statue of Saint George in the third courtyard.
St. George’s Basilica
The most imposing building in the St George square is the St George’s Basicila with its striking red facade. The St George’s Basicila is the second oldest church in Prague and houses the tombs of the Premyslid dynasty in the main nave. The basilica is also a venue for classical music concerts.
The austere interior of the basilica has several paintings and sculptures. There is a 13th-century chapel dedicated to St. Ludmila and a small baroque chapel dedicated to St John of Nepomuk in the basilica.
The St George square has an access to the Powder Tower or the Mihulka tower which was used as a laboratory by the alchemists during the reign of Rudolph II. The tower was converted into a museum exhibiting alchemy practices which later it served as the gunpowder store which gave it the name. Today the tower houses a museum displaying information on history and development of castle guards.
The Jirska street from the St George square leads to the Golden Lane along the Rosenberg Palace.
The Golden Lane is a narrow cobbled stone alley lined with brightly colored facades of houses. These colorful houses have been recreated to house the museum of the Armory, a historic pub, the house of Goldsmith, Matylda Prusova a fortune teller and the most popular of the houses the house no 22 where famous writer Franz Kafka lived. The alley leads to the gothic Daliborka tower which once served as a prison and got its name from the legendary Knight Dalibor of Kozojedy, who was imprisoned here and houses the recreated torture chambers and prison.
Prague Toy Museum in the Golden Lane is one of the fun things to do in Prague with kids. The toy museum which is the second largest museum of this kind in the world exhibits a wide array of ancient and modern toy collection from all over the world.
The historical buildings of Prague Castle complex the Romanesque Basilica of St. George, the Gothic Old Royal Palace and the colossal St Vitus Cathedral, Renaissance Summer Palace to the baroque chapels, fountain and courtyards showcase an eclectic mixture of architectural styles from different periods which is a delight to explore for every history buff.
Prague Castle Hours
Though the Prague castle opening hours are from 6 am to 10 pm all through the year the open hours are different for the historical buildings of the complex which also depends on the time of the year summer or winter. Check here for the comprehensive insight into the times for all the attractions in Prague castle complex. Prague castle gardens are closed in winters.
Prague Castle Tickets
The entry to the Prague castle ground within the permitted open hours is free but fees apply to enter the historical buildings in the castle premises. The tickets along with audio guides and walking tour map can be availed from the information centers in the second courtyard and third Courtyard. Different types of tickets are available for a different combination of points of interest in the castle for varied prices so that one can choose the ticket for the castle attractions they want to visit. Some other attractions need a separate entrance fee not included in the tickets. One can also opt for the guided Prague castle tours, tickets to which are also available in the information center.
Have you visited Prague and its castle complex? Which is your favorite part of Prague Castle?
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