Discovering the secrets of Prague Castle

A UNESCO heritage site with a history spanning over a millennium, Prague Castle is a pinnacle of architectural and artistic excellence. It attracts visitors from all corners of the world, and rightly so.

Legend has it that the castle was founded by Prince Bořivoj of the Přemyslid dynasty in around 880. The Guinness Book of World Records states that Prague Castle is the largest castle complex in the world. It covers an area of 70,000 square meters. It is also inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The castle comprises a vast collection of palaces and religious buildings in various architectural styles. From remnants of 10th-century Romanesque structures to Gothic modifications of the 14th century, interventions by renowned Slovenian architect Josip Plečnik during the First Czechoslovak Republic, to the latest renovations from the late 20th century.

Before you plan your visit

It's important to note that Prague Castle (or "Castle in Prague") is not just a tourist destination but also the office of the President of the Czech Republic and his administration. This means that there are strict security checks before entry, which can result in long queues, especially during the high season. So if you're visiting during peak season, be prepared to spend some extra time waiting outside.

There are plenty of ticket offices inside the castle grounds, so you don't need to buy a Prague castle tickets in advance. The question is whether it's worth spending around 10 EUR and a significant portion of your day on this attraction, or if you could see more interesting and less crowded neighbouring places such as Strahov Monastery, Letna Park, or Kampa Island. Check out our article for more recommendations.

Opening Hours:

Prague Castle Complex

6:00 AM – 10:00 PM

Visitor Attractions

9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (until 4:00 PM during winter season from November 1 to March 31)

So, how do you get to Prague Castle?

Since the castle is located on a hill, walking up may not be the best option unless you're a half-marathon runner. Public transportation is the way to go. Take the tram to the "Pražský hrad" stop, or consider a hop-on-hop-off bus or taxi.

Once inside the castle, there are several buildings worth exploring, including

Panoramic map of Prague Royal castle

St. Vitus Cathedral.

According to the official website, the cathedral is the largest and most important church in Prague, and was the site of coronations for Czech kings and queens. It is also the final resting place of various saints, monarchs, nobles, and archbishops. However, much of this information may not be relevant to your visit. Nevertheless, here's some key information about the building:

The St. Vitus Cathedral is the third church of the same dedication built in the same place. Around the year 925, Prince Wenceslas founded a pre-Romanesque rotunda here, which was replaced by a three-aisled basilica with two towers after 1060. The importance of the church increased especially after the establishment of the Prague bishopric in 973 and the founding of the chapter of canons - the St. Vitus Chapter, a later important cultural and administrative institution.

In 1344, Charles IV began the construction of the Gothic cathedral. The first builders, Matthias of Arras and later Peter Parler, built the choir with a wreath of chapels, the St. Wenceslas Chapel, the Golden Gate, and the lower part of the Great South Tower. However, the construction of the cathedral was interrupted by the Hussite Wars in 1419, and the church remained unfinished for centuries, despite attempts by some rulers to continue the construction. Only in the second half of the 19th century did the Union for the Completion of St. Vitus Cathedral begin the repair of the original part and the completion of the cathedral in the Neo-Gothic style. The cathedral was ceremoniously consecrated in 1929. The interior of the cathedral was also modified in later years.

In the choir of the cathedral, in front of the main altar, stands the Royal Mausoleum and beneath it, in the underground of the church, the Royal Tomb. The choir is surrounded by a wreath of Gothic chapels. Some of them house the tombs of rulers and patron saints of the Czech land."

Old Royal Palace

According to official information, the original wooden princely residence was built on the Prague Castle at the turn of the 9th and 10th centuries. Its exact location is not documented. In the 12th century, Prince Soběslav had a new stone Romanesque palace built at the newly constructed castle wall. Its remains have been preserved underground to this day. The Chapel of All Saints, consecrated in 1185, was connected to the eastern side of the palace. In the first half of the 14th century, King and Emperor Charles IV enlarged the Romanesque building, creating a Gothic palace with a vaulted representative space and a series of arcades on the northern side. During the reign of his son Wenceslas IV, two perpendicular wings were built, and the Chapel of All Saints was rebuilt. However, in reality, it is just an empty building that looks like an old warehouse.

St. George's Basilica

St. George's Basilica was established as the second church in Prague Castle. Only the foundations have been preserved from the original building, which was founded around 920 by Prince Vratislav I. When the monastery was founded in 973, the church was expanded and rebuilt. Looking back, it is now the oldest surviving building in the Royal Prague Castle.

Golden Lane

The most wonderful and cozy place in the entire complex, probably still retaining its charm and uniqueness since it was established together with the new north castle wing at the end of the 15th century. Gold Lane resembles a scene from a Disney fairy tale cartoon, and you expect a miracle to occur. There are two options: if you arrive during working hours, you can get inside and discover numerous intriguing things. But you can get in during the evening hours; you will not get in, but if you save money, you can catch this beauty empty.

The space of the northern park was used for the construction of modest dwellings, which are now the last remnants of small buildings in Prague Castle. The houses were inhabited by castle marksmen, servants, and even goldsmiths. They were occupied until the Second World War, but during the First Republic, care was taken to preserve the picturesque character of the street during renovations. The writer Franz Kafka resided in house number 22 in 1916-17.

The best example of the 16th-century dwelling is shown by house number 13, a Renaissance residence of a castle marksman. In the adjacent house, number 14, the famous fortune-teller and clairvoyant Matylda Průšová lived before World War II. Her clients came not only from the local area but also from overseas, as evidenced by the correspondence found. For her predictions of the fall of the Third Reich, she was arrested by the Gestapo during the war and ultimately tortured to death during interrogation.

During the warm months of the year, there are three parks that are highly recommended to visit:

The Royal Garden: Originally a Renaissance garden from 1534, Královská zahrada has become one of the few peaceful places in the center of Prague. The garden was built on the site of the original medieval vineyards. There are plenty of tranquil spots and beautiful views that will make you feel relaxed.

Deer Moat “Jelení příkop” (Czech)is a natural ravine through which the Brusnice stream flows. The name "jelení" (deer) comes from the fact that even during the reign of Rudolf II, game animals were kept here. It's like an oasis of calm in the heart of the city. If you're up for a bit of uphill hiking, this is probably the most comfortable path to get to the castle.

South Gardens of Prague Castle: The southern gardens were gradually created on the site of fortifications beneath Prague Castle. After the last renovation in 2012, they were restored to their original form from the 1920s when Slovenian architect Josip Plečnik designed them for President T.G. Masaryk.

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Basil Cooper

With an unwavering love for Prague 🇨🇿 , I have dedicated myself to sharing the wonders of this destination with the world 🗺️. Through my travel blog, I aim to provide valuable insights and practical tips that help tourists feel more at ease during their visit 🍺.

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