There was no doubt that we would visit Prague Castle during our visit. There were several pages dedicated to it in my guide book and I think I might have been locked up in some kind of tourist prison if I hadn’t gone and had a look.
We walked up the rather steep Nerudova Street and then up an even steeper slope to reach the castle. The first thing you notice when you reach the top is just how gorgeous the view is from there…
The next thing you’ll notice is just how many people are there (well, depending on when you visit of course), I’ve not seen a tourist attraction quite this crowded since the Eiffel Tower. The walking tours were my pet hate. On several occasions a group of 20ish people would just stop right in front of you and go through the history of the castle. Never mind the fact that you were there first trying to take a picture or enjoy the view or just sitting taking everything in. Cue my most evil stares and loudest tutting and sighing – I’m far to British to ask people to move!
We had a little wander around (and a well needed sit down) at Castle Square (Hradcanske Namesti) which is the area just outside the Castle. There is a nice bit of greenery and some gorgeous palaces to admire. It is also where all the tours are dropped off, so there is the chance to admire some of the old cars as well.
I’m not sure what the fascination is with the guards outside the castle, but most people seemed to love them; having their pictures taken and whatnot and the guards didn’t seem to mind – so feel free to snap away.
As you walk through Matthias Gate you enter the first gorgeous square. Around you is the Picture Gallery and President’s Office as well as a charming fountain. We grabbed a spot on a bench and spent a few minutes just taking it all in.
Walk through into the next area and you can not miss the stunning St. Vitus’s Cathedral ( I’ve got a full post on St. Vitus’s to come) but the thing that I had been expecting just wasn’t there. An actual castle. I’m so used to seeing a big old stone castle, with turrets and a keep and hopefully a moat, it just hadn’t occurred to me that all of the buildings inside the Castle were in fact the Castle (which I hope makes sense)
A brief history – courtesy of my wonderful guide book:
The history of Prague begins with the castle, founded by Prince Borivoj in the 9th century. Despite periodic fires and invasions, it has retained churches, chapels, halls and towers from every period of its history, from the Gothic splendor of St. Vitus’s Cathedral to the Renaissance additions of Rudolph II, the last Habsburg to use the castle as his principal residence. The courtyards date from 1753-75, when the whole area was rebuilt in Late Baroque and Neoclassical styles. The castle became the seat of the Czechoslovak president in 1918, and the current president of the Czech Republic has an office here.
To visit Prague Castle properly, you will need at least a day, if not two. There is:
- Picture Gallery
- Church of the Holy Rood
- Royal Garden
- Powder Tower
- St. Vitus’s Cathedral
- Royal Palace
- St. George’s Covent
- St. George’s Basilica
- White Tower
- Golden Lane
- Dalibor Tower
- Lobkowicz Palace
- South Gardens
not to mention the rest of the courtyards, statues, streets to stroll along and beautiful cafes that are all worth a visit.
You need to pay for each attraction that you enter and you can either buy separate tickets for most attractions or a bulk ticket that will allow you to visit them all (once) over a 48 hour period.
A trip to Prague Castle is a weekend away in itself, as we were only in Prague for a weekend and there were lots of other things that we wanted to see, we didn’t get to all of the attractions in the Castle (which is fine, gives me an excuse to go back)!
Then there is the walk back down the hill…
What was your favourite part of Prague Castle?