Prague Castle has been the centre of Prague’s political life ever since the first Castle was built on the site in 870. Today, the President lives in the Castle. A prime tourist location, a few hotels such as The Castle Steps are situated right at the foot of the castle. Read more
Prague Castle Opening Hours
Prague Castle Complex:
April – October, 5 a.m. – 12 a.m. (daily)
November – March, 5 a.m. – 11 p.m. (daily)
Sections requiring a ticket:
St Vitus’ Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St George Basilica, Golden Lane, Powder Tower-Mihulka
April – October, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (daily)
November – March, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. (daily)
Free of charge:
Gardens of Prague Castle
April – October, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (daily)
For a thousand years Prague Castle (Prazsky hrad) has stood towering above the river Vltava. Inseparable from the Hunderd Spined Prague it creates a picturesque view. Throughout the centuries it has been the center of history for the Czech nation, a monument of glory and of suffering. The royal Premyslid family took power over the united Czech territories at the end of the 9th century. The new residential castle on the stretched hillock dates from that time. Apparently Prince Borivoj also founded there the first Christian church of the Virgin Mary. Several religions buildings were erected in the fortress at the beginning of the following century: Saint George Basilica, Saint Vitus Cathedral and also the first convent. The industrious building at the Castle site ceased when the Premyslid family died out by the sword.
By the beginning of the 14th century, the castle was in a very desolate condition. Therefore Charles IV had to renovate it completely after his return from France and Italy. The remains of the royal palace were transformed into a prestigious place in Gothic style.
The Saint Vitus cathedral had to become a pretentious place also. Other religious and state buildings on the castle site were renewed and more were to be built. The royal palace was again considerably converted under the reign of Vladislav Jagellonský. The throne-rome, named after Vladislav, especially causes admiration even today. In the middle ages it was one of the biggest halls. It has vaults with a detailed network, with intertwined ribs and big windows. The reign of Rudolf II represents an important period. Again Italian architects built, among other things, a new palace with two big halls. The Spanish hall, decorated by top artists, is still the pride of the castle. Rudolf gathered his famous collections in it.
The gallery of paintings included the most important masters of renaissance: Titian, Leonardo da Vinci, Rafael, Breughel, Holbein, Durer and many others. Some of the paintings still belong to the state art collections in Vienna.
The main gate, decorated with a group of giants, leads into Prague Castle from the Hradcanské námestí (Hradcany Square). It leads to the first castle yard which is also called the Yard of Honour. It is the youngest part of the castle built in Viennese Rococo style. In the front wall is the Matthias Gate (Matyásova brána) which is the oldest state building in Prague Baroque style. A passageway leads to the second castle yard. In its centre stands a decorated baroque fountain. In the south-west part is the Chapel of the Holy Cross (Kaple svatého Kríze) in which the Saint Vitus treasure is kept. On the South side of the yard is the Rudolf Palace, on the North side a wing including the Spanish Hall, the wedge-shaped passage and the Gallery. There are also passageways to the Royal Gardens, the Manege and Belvedere.
The second castle yard is connected to the most memorable place – the third castle yard, where there used to be the original Slavonic fortress. Opposite the passageway stands the monumental Saint Vitus Cathedral. Part of the decoration of this yard is the special statue of Saint George fighting the dragon.
The transversal wing between the second and the third yard and the southern section belong to the presidential office. The royal palace, in which is the Vladislav Hall (Vladislavský sál), completes the third yard on the east side. Behind the old palace is the Saint George Square (Svatojirské námestí).
Three buildings of interest are to be found in this square: The All Saints Church rebuilt in renaissance style, the romanesque Saint George Church and the old convent. George street (Jirská ulice) leads to the little Golden Street (Zlatá ulicka). George street runs along the old viscount and Lobkowitz palace and ends at the east gate by which stands the Black Tower (Cerná vez) – a part of the old romanesque castle fortifications. Leading from the gate downhill is the old artillery rampart which gives a beautiful view over the city.