Every day, thousands of tourists go to Prague Castle. But don’t worry; it’s so large that the crowds disperse. The most attractive architectural gems include the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert, St. George’s Basilica, the Prague Castle Picture Gallery, and Rosenberg Palace. Moreover, the view of Prague from Hradčany Square before the entry to the first courtyard is one of the most beautiful in the city.
The largest castle complex in the world
Prague Castle officially holds one primacy – according to the Guinness Book of Records, it is the largest castle complex in the world. It consists of a series of palaces and religious buildings whose foundations have been preserved since the 10th century. Its area occupies nearly 70,000 m², including gardens, and it has been listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The castle destined to success and glory
Prague Castle was founded by Prince Bořivoj of the Přemyslid dynasty in about 800, and it’s entangled with many legends. The most famous one is about Libuše, the mythical ruler Krok’s daughter, who foresaw the foundation and glory of the city of Prague. Prague Castle used to be the destination of the royal route, and today, it’s the seat of the Czech President. When he is at Prague Castle, the national flag is held high above the compound.
The flag, the heart, and the boxer shorts
During the Presidency of Václav Havel, one could also see a huge neon heart designed by artist Bořek Šípek in addition to the national flag above Prague Castle. Another performance above the castle roofs, however, was not commissioned by the President, but it was rather a protest against him – in 2015, the national flag was replaced by large red boxer shorts designed by the art group Ztohoven. Both the above-mentioned examples show that Prague Castle has been one of the most important symbols of Czech statehood in the modern history and a place for both public speeches and reflections of the mood in the society.
What about a picture of St. Vitus Cathedral?
The dominant feature of Prague Castle is the Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert. When you cross the first and second courtyards and come to the church on the third courtyard, you’ll be amazed. Just like its architects, led by Petr Parléř in the 14th century, intended. The largest and most significant Prague cathedral rises to the sky, and few people manage to take a picture of the whole building. The smooth pavement has already seen many photographers lying on the ground.
In addition to church services, the Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert was also the place of coronations of Czech kings and queens. It’s also the place where the remains of important Czech politicians and clerics were buried and where the state funeral of the first post-communist president Václav Havel was held in 2011.
Don’t miss the changing of the guards
You will like the blue and white checkpoints at the gates to Prague Castle where members of the Castle Guards keep watch. They stand there motionless like statues, never mind the weather and intrusive tourists trying to take their selfies. The summer uniforms are lighter and brighter than the winter ones (both designed by artist Theodor Pištěk), but when the temperatures reach 30°C, the guards can leave the overheated booths and stay in the courtyard.
Prague Castle is also guarded by 40 soldiers with defunct rifles. Members of the Castle Guards have guns though. The changing of the guards takes place at every full hour. At noon, the changing of the guards is a great a parade accompanied by the Band of the Castle Guards in the first courtyard.
Leave your luggage at home
The compound of Prague Castle is open to the public from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., the sights usually from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. At the entrances to Prague Castle, both from the Deer Moat and Hradčanské Square, you can expect security guards checking luggage. It’s not recommended to take bulky backpacks or suitcases with you to Prague Castle. The compound is also a no-fly zone, so it’s prohibited to use drones there.
And what can you see?
The sights at Prague Castle: the Old Royal Palace (with the Vladislav Hall), Golden Lane with the Daliborka Tower, St. George’s Basilica, the Powder Tower – Mihulka, the Prague Castle Picture Gallery, the Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert with the Great South Tower, Rosenberg Palace, and Prague Castle gardens.
The exhibition spaces: the Riding School, the Imperial Stables, Marie Theresa’s Wing, and Belvedere.