Prague Castle : Official Seat Of Power Of Bohemian Kings & Czech Republic President
With its origin dating back to the early days of 870, the royal palace of Prague Castle has been an integral part of Prague’s history and stood the test of time with the help of renovation, expansion, and repair works. Read some interesting facts about Prague Castle, its history, and the reasons behind its popularity
What Is Prague Castle?
Lauded as a monument of cultural and historical importance, the Prague Castle is located within the historic centre of Prague, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With origins in the 9th century, the complex holds several stunning gothic and baroque structures that were built over several hundred years. Today, it is the seat of the head of the state and is considered to be the largest ancient castle in the world, covering an area of over a whopping 18 acres! To add to its unending glory, the crown jewels are kept at Prague Castle, as are the relics of Bohemian kings, precious Christian artifacts, art treasures, and historical documents.Visit Prague Castle
Why Is Prague Castle So Famous?
Prague Castle is a historical building complex, founded in 880 as a seat of power for the Bohemian Kings. Even today, it is still used as the official seat of the president of the Czech Republic. It is a significant monument in Czech history and is considered to be an ancient and important cultural institution of the Czech State. Considered as the largest coherent castle complex, Prague Castle includes various historic buildings, palaces, offices, gardens, courtyards, and churches, of various architectural styles, attracting visitors and art lovers from all over the world.
Where Is Prague Castle Located?
Prague Castle is located in the heart of the historic center of Prague, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 110 acres large Prague castle complex is also called Hradčany, a collective name of all the palaces, offices, buildings, churches and gardens that comes under it. Built on the banks of river Vltava, Charles Bridge connects the ancient castle to the city's Old Town and other neighboring areas. It is located approximately 12.2 km away from the Václav Havel Airport Prague or PRG airport.
Who Built The Prague Castle?
Founded by Prince Bořivoj of the Přemyslovci or Premyslid Dynasty in 880s. Bořivoj was the first Christian prince of Bohemia, under whose reign the construction and expansion work continued throughout the late 9th century as structures like St. George’s Basilica were added to it. After which, with time, kings kept on adding different churches, historical buildings, and offices to the castle complex, while the Romanesque buildings of the 10th century got Gothic modifications in the 14th century. Since the Velvet Revolution, the Prague Castle complex has seen extensive restoration and reconstruction works to keep its state intact and operational.
Prague Castle Highlights
- The Prague Castle has been home to kings throughout its history. Crown princes to kings and the Holy Roman Emperor too, have taken a seat here and called this place home.
- The Prague Castle is declared the largest ancient castle in the world by the Guinness Book of Records. Spread across an imposing 753,474 square meters, with 570 meters in length and around the average of 130 meters in width, it is an architectural wonder.
- An iron safe with seven locks located within a chamber door holds the precious Bohemian Crown Jewels that include St. Wenceslas’ crown, the royal scepter, and the coronation cloak.
- St Vitus Cathedral, a holy place located in the Prague Castle holds an ancient relic for dancers - the arm of St. Vitus, a Sicilian martyr himself.
- The Prague Palace has a tropical garden built-in the 16th century, upon request of Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II.
Prague Castle History
Prague Castle Origin
The date of origin of the Prague Castle goes back to the late 9th century. It was founded around the year 880 during the reign of Prince Bořivoj, the first Christian prince of Bohemia. The first walled building set up at this castle complex in Prague, Czech Republic, is the church of the Virgin Mary (today, only its ruins remain).
Prague Castle Through Time
Decades later, two other religious buildings - St. George’s Basilica and St. Vitus Cathedral came up within the grounds. The castle complex only expanded over the centuries, with several structures. But it was followed by a series of unfortunate events, including abandonment for several decades (the 1300s to 1400s), and a massive fire in the mid-1500s.
Prague Castle Renovations
Once the Bohemian Revolt settled, the castle underwent major renovations in 1848. In 1918, after becoming the seat of the President of the Czech Republic, the castle was completed in 1929. Reconstruction and alterations to the grounds of Prague Castle is an ongoing affair, even to this day as an effort to preserve the grandeur and history of this iconic landmark.
Inside Prague Castle
Prague Castle Churches
The Basilica of St. George and St. Vitus Cathedral are the two most prominent churches part of Prague Castle. The former is one of the oldest churches in the Czech Republic and boasts a Romanesque style with baroque elements, while the St. Vitus Cathedral is a magnificent gothic masterpiece that took centuries to finish. Its architectural grandeur is of great pride to the country. All Saints Church and Holy Cross Chapel are other churches in the complex that are not as grand but are plenty charming.
Prague Castle Halls
The most notable among the 5 halls at the Prague Castle are the Spanish and Vladislav Halls. The Spanish Hall is a beautiful stateroom embellished with stucco decorations and Baroque ornamentation. It was built in the 17th century for Emperor Rudolph II and held important sculptures. Today, the hall is a place of many gala dinners and important political events. Similarly, the Vladislav Hall too is reserved for events, but larger public events since it boasts the most floor space of all.
Prague Castle Palaces
The Old Royal Palace built in Romanesque stonework in the 12th century shows both late gothic and architectural features and is one of the most popular palaces of the Prague Castle. The most important representative hall, the Vladislav Hall is part of this Palace. Nearby, in the Royal Garden is the Queen Anna’s Summer Palace, also called Summer Palace or Belvedere which is also built in the Renaissance style.
Prague Castle Gardens
The Royal Garden of Prague Castle is one of the few serene locations within the castle premises. It was originally an old vineyard that was purchased to be transformed into a garden for the royal court. The garden is built in an Italian renaissance style and is known for its rare botanical specimens and exotic plants sourced from foreign lands. Other Prague Castle gardens are Riding School Terrace Garden, The Deer Moat, and South Gardens.
What To See At Prague Castle?
Hands down the most charming of all spots at Prague Castle, the Golden Lane gets its name for once being a laneway of only goldsmiths shop. This was back in the 15th century, but only little has changed since. The finest traditional medieval buildings still remain, only they now house cool displays of armor and textiles, scenes showing medieval life, and shops selling local crafts. If you're a literature fanatic, do not miss out on visiting #22 - it was the home of Franz Kafka's sister, and it was where the author wrote for a period of time.
St. Vitus Cathedral
The St. Vitus Cathedral is celebrated as the largest Christian building throughout the Czech Republic. It is also used as the seat of the Archbishop of Prague which houses several burial tombs, important saints, and Bohemian kings. Visit it to just marvel at the stunning architecture, a mix of modern neo-gothic and 14th-century gothic, with elements of baroque and renaissance influences. The Great South Tower of the Cathedral is a must-see too, especially the views of the castle grounds and the city that it has to offer.
Old Royal Palace
Rich in its history and one of the more interesting buildings of the Prague Castle, the Old Royal Palace dates back to the 9th century but the current structure was completed more recently in the 14th century. Its main attraction is the magnificent 16th-century Vladislav Hall, a massive structure that was used for coronations, banquets, markets, and sporting tournaments. The hall is still used for state functions.
St. George’s Basilica
The oldest religious structure at Prague Castle, St. George’s Basilica still retains its captivating Romanesque form despite time and renovations over centuries. Interestingly, it also happens to be the oldest surviving building in the Prague Castle compounds. The church holds the tombs of prominent religious personalities like Vratislav, St. Ludmila, Duke Boleslav II, and, many more.
Frequently Asked Questions About Prague Castle
A. Prague Castle is a castle complex with its origins dating back to the 9th century, holding several stunning gothic and baroque structures that were built over several hundred years. It is located within the historic center of Prague, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A. Prague Castle has been the official seat of the president of the Czech Republic since its foundation in the 880s. It is still used as the official residence of the Czech Republic President. It holds several historical buildings with beautiful architectural works.
A. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Prague Castle has an area of almost 70,000 square meters.
A. St. Vitus Cathedral is also called the Prague Castle Church.
A. St. Vitus Cathedral, At George's Basilica, All Saints Church, and Holy Cross Chapel are the four churches in Prague Castle.
A. Architects Peter Parler and Matthias of Arras designed and built the Prague Castle.
A. The president of the Czech Republic currently resides in the Prague Castle and uses it as his official residence .
A. The Prague Castle is now open and welcoming visitors from all over the world.
A. Yes, it is safe to go for Prague Castle tours post COVID-19. The Czech Republic government has adopted all anti-pandemic safety measures including limiting the number of people in castle interiors. Visitors must wear masks at all times and follow all social distancing and Covid-19 safety protocols at all times, only then will you be granted entry.
A. It takes at least 3 hours to fully enjoy and explore Prague Castle. If you start in the morning you will be done by lunchtime.