Charles IV's castle in the woods - Karlstejn

Karlstejn Travel Blog

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Upon our return, the bus was loading. It was a small bus of 17 or 18 people. It was so hot out that the air conditioning was having a hard time cooling all of us down. Many people complained but, the best that we could get was barely cool air and ending up with lukewarm bus temperature. That, combined with the exaggerated driving of our driver, made for a nauseating experience.


We exited Prague along the river and then out into the countryside and across the green fields and meadows.


We arrived at our destination, a parking place in the woods with a restaurant to one side.

It was just in time as I really thought that I would hurl at any moment due to the driving.


We started off down the road…..the guide not giving us an overview…just started walking. He took a steep trail through the woods (bike trail) and continued his poke along. He was an elderly man and was doing very well given his age. It was a good 10-15 minute walk, all steep grade.


We came to a landing at the castle’s gate. It was rather non-descript but, I could see beyond and it would get more interesting.


Karlstejn Caste is a high Gothic castle founded in 1348, which has a unique position among Czech castles.

It was built by Czech King and Roman Emperor Charles IV as a place for safekeeping of the royal treasures, especially Charles's collection of holy relics and the coronation jewels of the Roman Empire. ´


At the outbreak of the Hussite wars the castle became the place for safekeeping of the Czech coronation jewels, which were kept here, with the exception of several short-time breaks, for nearly 200 years. The castle was reconstructed in late Gothic style after 1480 and in Renaissance style in the last quarter of the 16th century. The present appearance of the castle comes from the last reconstruction, which was carried out in the purist neo-Gothic style by architect Josef Mocker at the end of the 19th century.


Some must see parts of the castle are the unique and original decoration of wall paintings dating back to the 14th century, collection of 129 panel paintings by Master Theodoric in the Chapel of the Holy Cross (the world largest if its kind), the largest portrait gallery of Czech rulers in the country, exhibited replica of St.

Wenceslas crown - the coronation crown of the Czech Kings as well as the unique castle well.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross required a reservation ticket that somehow was not included in our tour. This is the most important part of the castle and is recognized in a special manner by UNESCO. Rob and I were furious that this was not apart of the tour and time not allotted for anyone who might desire a visit. Also, photography, of any kind was not allowed within the castle.

The castle is in a very remote location and on a hill surrounded by lush vegetation. It’s a bit hidden, to say the least.

The castle exterior is Gothic dramatic and very beautiful, yes but, not as striking as Bojnice and Oravsky in Slovakia. I appreciate what condition that is maintained as that alone is a triumph, here.

There were a group of trumpeters that heralded each time a new group climbed the stairs to begin their tour, a nice touch. Also, in the first interior, we were treated to some music with a traditional Czech musical instrument. A CD of which was possible to buy, if you like. I’m always open to enjoying new music but, as there was only one song played I didn’t want to commit to a whole CD.

At the conclusion of the tour, I bought a book about the castle so that I would be able to see the rooms that were not available to us, today. They also had some Gothic glassware and even some that was painted.

Rob and I separated from the group and walked down the hill a bit to look at a lone vendor’s offering. He made bells and had some coinage that he had struck. The bells were interesting but most of all, they had perfect tone. As we had made many purchases, thus far, we passed on the bell but, I bought one of his coins.

We continued down the path through the woods, alone. It was a nice walk….peaceful. We met the others at the bus within a short time and returned to Prague. The return trip was a bit shorter, thankfully. I was ready to be done with bus riding.

monicaloya says:
I went to Karlstejn last April; it was a very cold day, the clowdy sky made it look very creepy!! LOL. It's totally worth it. I took a train from Prague and it was much cheaper than the tours available.
On the way up, we ate by a little cozy coffee place/store which looked very traditional. ALso I found souvenirs extremely cheap!! Nice, I'm glad i went there.
Posted on: Dec 05, 2012
VincentopReis says:
I was in Karlstejn also. Great place, must see if you like these castles. A tip: Going by train (from Prague)is also an option. That way you can take as much time as you need. Back in 2009 there where a couple of restaurants too, and it is a great place to ga for a walk in the woods.
Posted on: Jun 27, 2012
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