Jan 14, 2024

A Journey through Time in Prague’s Castle District

Prague is justifiably famous for its historical monuments. The old town of the Czech Republic is one of the best preserved anywhere in Europe, and everywhere you go here, you’ll find relics from various eras of the city’s history, from medieval times up to the present day.

One of the most unignorable of these monuments is Prague Castle. The world’s largest castle, according to the Guinness Book of Records, Prague Castle is a place you can’t afford to miss while you’re in the city.

In fact, there’s much more to Prague Castle than just the castle itself. The hilltop location of the castle also contains several other hugely significant historical monuments, making this a fantastic neighborhood to explore. You could easily spend a whole day or more immersing yourself in Prague’s medieval history along with the more modern stories of the city. After all, Prague Castle is still the official residence of the Czech president to this day.

Leave your bags behind at a Prague luggage storage and devote the time to exploring this incredible destination. You’ll come away with a much better sense of the history of the city and the country of which it is the capital and have a great time doing it.

Prague Castle

Prague Castle itself dates back to the ninth century and has played a central role in Czech history for more than 1000 years. There are several ways to reach the castle, but if you don’t mind a bit of a walk, it’s worth taking the time to cross the ancient Charles Bridge and admire its famous statues before making the climb up the hill to the castle itself.

Once you get there, you’ll have plenty more walking to do.

The castle is home to five major halls, with the Vladislav Hall and the Spanish Hall being the most impressive. The Spanish Hall dates back to the 17th century and is full of Baroque decoration. The Vladislav Hall is more austere, but it’s also bigger, and its sheer size is as impressive as its architecture. Both halls are sometimes used for state functions to this day.

The Daliborka Tower is also a great place to explore within the castle. Formerly a prison, this medieval tower dives into some of the lesser-known and darker stories of the castle’s history. The Great South Tower, on the other hand, is the biggest tower of the castle, and if you can manage the climb up the steep stairs, gives an incredible view over the city.

Don’t miss the Story of Prague Castle exhibition, which will tell you more about the history of the castle’s rulers over the last thousand years or so. From ancient kings to doomed Nazis to the current president, Prague Castle has been the center of power in the country for a very long time.

St. Vitus Cathedral

Another spectacular medieval building on the summit of the hill, St. Vitus Cathedral is another must-visit location in Prague’s Castle district. Founded in 1344, this spectacular Gothic church replaced an earlier Romanesque structure that stood on the same spot. However, the castle’s construction wasn’t officially finished until 1929, so you can imagine the skill and care that went into creating this gigantic work of art.

Inside, you’ll find beautiful stained glass windows and the tomb of St. Wenceslas – the one from the famous Christmas song. Many of Prague’s most notable rulers are also buried in this Cathedral, and their tombs try to outdo each other in splendor and detail.

Notably, the church is also home to the Bohemian crown jewels, which you can see in the attached Crown Chamber. And don’t miss the splendid tomb of St. John of Nepomuk with its incredible silver sarcophagus.

Old Royal Palace

The original royal residence at Prague Castle was made of wood back in the ninth century and did not survive. However, a new Royal Palace was built in the 12th century, this time made of stone. It served as the residence of the rulers of Prague for centuries. Now, this part of the castle is often used for art exhibitions and is also a great place to learn more about the earliest occupants of this impressive fortress.

Golden Lane

Prague Castle and its attached buildings are all about ancient rulers and saints. However, if you’re curious about what life was like for more regular people, visit Golden Lane, a beautifully preserved ancient street within the castle walls.

What is now the Golden Lane was built in the 16th century during the reign of Emperor Rudolf II. the houses were originally intended for the marksmen who were hired to defend the castle in the event of an attack, and they were deliberately built small to make up for the lack of space available to house the 24 marksmen required.

By the 19th century, however, the small houses had become dilapidated and were home to thieves and beggars. The houses underwent a major restoration project in the mid-20th century, which gave them their current appearance, including their striking pastel colors. Now, the houses serve as shops where you can pick up souvenirs or as places to hold museum exhibits detailing everyday life for the castle’s working population during different periods of Czech history.

Prague’s Castle District

There’s no missing Prague Castle. This hulking complex on a hill overlooking the city is visible from many points throughout the city and has been the center of power in the country for well over a thousand years.

There’s so much to see here that you’ll need at least a full day to experience it all, and it’s a good idea to book tickets in advance. Once you have, though, and have left your bags behind at a convenient luggage storage, you’ll be ready to journey through a thousand years of fascinating history.

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