Prague Castle, a Short Tour

Photo by Sally Pederson

Over 1000 years of history

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Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world, according to Guinness Book of World Record. It is 1,870 feet (570 meters) long and averages 420 feet (128 meters) wide. It covers an area bigger than seven football fields – an area of almost 754,000 ft² (70,000 m²). The Prague Castle is much more than just a Castle. It is one of the most prominent cultural institutions in the Czech Republic and an ancient symbol of the Czech lands. Above all, it is the most significant Czech monument. If you want to see everything here, plan to spend the entire day and wear comfortable shoes. The ceremonial Changing of the Guard including a fanfare and the flag ceremony is held daily at 12.00 in the first courtyard.

The History of Prague Castle

Pražský hrad, or just hrad to Czechs – stretches back to the year 880 with Prince Borivoj of the Premyslid Dynasty (Premyslovci). Here you will see how the expansion of the Castle went on for about 700 years. However, Prague Castle is more like a small town within the Castle walls and it is one of Prague’s most popular attractions.

The construction of its first walled building was the Church of the Virgin Mary, however, you can only see remnants of the building now. In the castle area, you will also discover both The Basilica of Saint George and the Basilica of St. Vitus which were both founded in the first half of the 10th century by Vratislav and his son St. Wenceslas. St. Georges Convent – established by St. Georges Basilica – was the first Czech convent and is now home to a gallery.

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The greatest expansion of the Prague Castle took place in 1346 – 1378 by Charles IV. During this time, it became the seat of the Holy Roman Emperor. Therefore, fortifications were strengthened, the (old) Royal Palace was rebuilt and the construction of St. Vitus Cathedral – which contains the tombs of important saints and Bohemian kings – commenced. Here you will also find The Old Royal Palace (Starý Královský Palác). It is one of the most interesting buildings dating back to the 9th century, but the current building traces back to the 14th century. Walking through these you will see and have the opportunity to read about each building.

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The Towers and Golden Lane

Be sure to walk through Daliborka Tower and Golden Lane, the Mihulka Powder Tower, and New White Tower. They were built after King Wladislaw Jagellon’s move into the castle in 1483. This was then followed up by further expansion and renovations by Wladislaw Hall. Author Franz Kafka – a major figure in 20th-century literature – was born in Prague and lived briefly on Golden Land. Walking through Golden Lane you will see how small the living space was for people there.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

Over the following five centuries the seat of power had moved to and from Prague many times causing deterioration and renovations creating a diverse mixture of architectural styles. You can now visit the Picture Gallery at Prague Castle and The Story of Prague Castle. The Prague Castle and area is a must see as all of it is a part of a UNESCO World Heritage site.


Optional Tours

Prague Castle – Long Tour – includes St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George’s Basilica, Old Royal Palace, Rosenberg Palace, Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower, Mihulka Powder Tower, Prague Castle Picture Gallery, and “The Story of Prague Castle” exhibition.

Prague Castle – Short Tour – includes St Vitus Cathedral, St. George Basilica, Old Royal Palace, Golden Lane, and Daliborka Tower.

Schwarzenberg Palace and Lobkowitz Palace are also in the area, but not part of the Castle tickets.

Here is a complete list of Tours, Tickets, Activities & Things To Do in the Czech Republic.

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