The Prague Castle

Prague Travel Blog

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View at the Charles Bridge (Prague, Czech Republic)

After another huge breakfast we take the metro to the Prague Castle. The metro only has three lines and it definitely doesn’t cover the entire city, but it’s convenient enough. Today we expect to spend the whole day at the Prague Castle which, according to the Guinness Book of Records, is the biggest ancient castle in the world, with 570 meters in length and 130 meters width.

We ride the green metro line until Malostranska and exit the station at Klarov street.

View at the Prague Castle (Prague, Czech Republic)
A few meters further we find the street ‘Stare Zamecke Schody’, that leads to the back entrance of the castle. We had already heard from a relative who has been in Prague, that if you use the front entrance of the castle, you have to walk hundreds of steep steps. And there is no metro station in the vicinity of the front entrance.

The climb towards the back entrance of the castle is a lot milder, and gives excellent views of the city. Once we have passed the entrance, we can see that what is called the castle, is not just one building, it’s more a fortification that consists of several buildings, palaces, churches and entire streets and squares. (This is a useful website that shows all the different buildings and sights: http://old.hrad.cz/castle/plan_uk.html.)

Within this fortification, that dates back to the year 870, the Kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic have had their offices.

View while on route to the Prague Castle (Prague, Czech Republic)

The first thing we want to see is the ‘Golden Lane’, but a man at the beginning of the small street tells us we need a ticket, and sends us to what appears to be some sort of a snack bar. Here we see a sign pointing out that there are two sorts of tickets, a ‘normal’ ticket with entrance to a few sights, or a more extensive ticket that gives entrance to everything within the Castle. We decide to take no risk and go for the extensive ticket.

Now we can enter the Golden Lane which was build after the construction of the northern wall of the Castle. The entire northern part of the Castle had similar modest dwellings, but most of them had to make place for fancier and more expensive houses. The tiny places were inhabited by the castle servants and castle marksmen, it is possible that the houses on the Golden Lane were inhabited by goldsmiths. It is a fact that the famous writer Franz Kafka lived in house number 22 form 1916 till 1917.

View while on route to the Prague Castle (Prague, Czech Republic)

Today, most houses have tiny souvenir shops inside, except for one of the first houses. Here stairs with a huge suit of armour lead to a next level where there is display of medieval weapons and a remarkable collection of ancient helmets.

At the end of the Golden Lane, the staircase in house number 12 gives access to the terrace in front of the Daliborka Tower. This was a cannon tower and the lowest floor was used as a prison. The first prisoner was the knight Dalibor of Kozojedy, who was imprisoned here in 1498. 

Our next stop is St. George’s Basilica, which is beautifully situated at a large square that is lined with other stunning buildings and St.

Ceremonial guards at the back entrance of the Prague Castle (Prague, Czech Republic)
Vitus’s Cathedral. The earliest version of the St. George’s Basilica was founded in 920, but only the foundations of this early building have been preserved. In the year 973 the church was reconstructed and enlarged and a convent for Benedictine nuns was added. In the first half of the 13th century, a chapel consecrated to St. Ludmila was added to the church.

The inside of the church is quite dark and sober, but very beautiful and atmospheric. We don’t understand much of the function of the chapel dedicated to St. Ludmila, which is underneath the altar, but that doesn’t matter much.  

We also visit the convent, which is very simple, but huge. It has an enormous exposition of old Bohemian art, and although this isn’t exactly our taste, some paintings make us stop and stare.

When we feel we’ve seen enough art, we walk towards the St.

Ceremonial guards at the back entrance of the Prague Castle (Prague, Czech Republic)
Vitus’s Cathedral, which outside reminds me of the Notre Dame in Paris. It’s gothic exterior is absolutely breathtaking, but once we’ve walked around the cathedral, we notice that there is a huge line in front of the entrance. Hundreds of people are lined up at the other side of the cathedral, and it doesn’t seem there is any movement.

We instantly have the idea that we’ve made a misjudgement on the popularity of the Cathedral and that we should come back early tomorrow morning, so we don’t have to waste an hour waiting in line. We decide to have lunch in a little bistro that has fabulous sandwiches (it’s on the left of the cathedral!), and after we’ve had a bit of a rest and flipped through our guide book, we proceed to the Old Royal Palace. Once we’re outside, we see that the line for the cathedral has diminished by half it’s length! Therefore, we decide to come back after we’ve seen the Royal Palace.

The Prague Castle (Prague, Czech Republic)
Who knows what the line will like then…

The Old Royal Palace was founded in the late 9th century, then as a wooden building with a stone foundation wall. It was converted in a stone palace in the early 12th century. The Vladislav Hall was added in 1483, and we found it’s beautiful ceiling the absolute highlight of the entire palace. Even though today only a throne is left in the extensive hall, it is obvious this room was used for royal state purposes, such as coronation festivities and conferences.

On the other side of the hall we find a glass cabinet that holds the Bohemian crown jewels, but this is a bit of a let-down compared to the British crown jewels in the Tower of London. The other rooms in the castle are also nice, including the All Saints’ Church, but none can be compared to the spectacular Vladislav Hall.

The Golden Lane at the Prague Castle (Prague, Czech Republic)

When we leave the Old Royal Castle and walk around St. Vitus’s Cathedral again, we see that there is nobody waiting in front of the entrance of the Cathedral. Nobody! We guess a couple of tour groups wanted to visit the cathedral at the same time, causing a huge delay at the doorway.

We quickly run in, as if hundreds of other interested people can show up within a second a cause us to wait for at least an hour.

St. Vitus’s Cathedral is the largest and most important church in Prague. The building of the cathedral started in 925, but enlargements and reconstructions lasted well into the 14th century. Both sides of the cathedral are lined with chapels, and all chapels have stained glass windows.

The Golden Lane at the Prague Castle (Prague, Czech Republic)

In front of the high alter is the royal mausoleum, below which, in the crypt, there is the royal tomb.

The beautiful St. Wenceslas’s Chapel is the centre of the Cathedral. The architecture  of the entire church emphasizes this chapel with the tomb of the most important patron saint. The walls have precious stones and wall paintings and scenes from the life of St. Wenceslas complete the decorations.

We leave the Prague Castle through the front court yards and entrance feeling as if we have just spend almost the entire day in the Middle Ages. The entire Prague Castle has so many ancient details and is so well preserved that it is like stepping back into time.  

Liselore_Verschuren says:
We spend a full day here, mainly we because we visited a couple of the museums. There are more museums and expositions to be seen there, if you want to see them all you may need two days.
Posted on: Aug 05, 2010
Vikram says:
Did you need a full day here? Can you be specific please?
Posted on: Aug 02, 2010
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View at the Charles Bridge (Prague…
View at the Charles Bridge (Pragu…
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Front entrance of the Prague Castl…
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Leaving the Prague Castle (Prague,…
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U Krále Brabantského (Prague, Cz…
U Krále Brabantského (Prague, C…
U Krále Brabantského (Prague, Cz…
U Krále Brabantského (Prague, C…
U Krále Brabantského (Prague, Cz…
U Krále Brabantského (Prague, C…
U Krále Brabantského (Prague, Cz…
U Krále Brabantského (Prague, C…
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photo by: vulindlela