Prague Castle - History and Fun Facts
General Information and Prague Castle Opening Hours
Prague Castle is the largest castle complex in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records. Occupying an area of more than 7 hectares, Prague Castle is the most popular attraction in Prague, visited by more than 4 million people annually.
You can visit the Prague Castle area every day from 6:00 till 22:00. The museums and indoor exhibitions are opened from 9:00 till 17:00 in summer and till 16:00 in winter. Visit the official website of the Prague Castle to check its opening hours as they might differ on public holidays and on days of foreign political visits.
A Brief History of the Prague Castle
Prague Castle is considered to be one of the oldest continuous residences of power. It was inhabited by the Czech Royal dynasty of Premyslids as early as the 9th century! Their castle's location was, definitely, an advantage against medieval sieges. The castle is located 250 meters above sea level and surrounded by a Deer Moat on the northern side.
On the 2nd of September 1347, Charles IV was crowned as a Bohemian King in the St. Vitus Cathedral, which construction started only 3 years prior to that. 14th century was the Golden Age for Prague, and Prague Castle also flourished during the reign of Charles IV and his son Wenceslas IV.
Unfortunately, Wenceslas did not inherit his father's diplomatic skills, and a complicated political and religious situation in Bohemia led to a Hussite War in 1419. During that time the castle was attacked by iconoclasts and many religious monuments were vandalized.
In 1526 Czech throne became occupied by a well-known Habsburg family, who ruled these lands till the end of WWI. Then, the first Czechoslovakian president, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, started a tradition of presidents living and working on the castle grounds. This tradition is respected even nowadays! Prague Castle is now used as an office of the Czech President.
Fun facts about Prague Castle
- Prague Castle has been the seat of the Holy Roman Emperor twice: during the reign of Charles IV and Rudolf II.
- In 1541, a destructive fire reached the Prague Castle and completely destroyed thousands of law records stored in the Old Royal Palace. The fire apparently spread from the kitchen of the house located below the Castle District. I guess, nobody saw that cooking!
- The uniforms of the Prague Castle Guards were created by the Oscar-winning designer, Theodor Pistek, who worked on the set of 1984s Amadeus.
- The last members of the Royal Family who stayed in the castle were Princess Diana and Charles in 1991.
Can you go inside the Prague Castle?
Yes, you can. Most of the buildings in the Prague Castle are used by the office of the Czech president and not available to the general public. However, there is still a lot to see there! The interiors of these buildings are only available with the entrance ticket.
- St. Vitus Cathedral - if you only want to visit one building in the Prague Castle, this is it! St. Vitus Cathedral was started to be built in 1344 and finished only 600 years later. This is where the tomb of St. Wenceslas and the stained glass window of Alfons Mucha is located.
- Old Royal Palace - the oldest residence of Czech Kings. You can find Vladislav Hall and the Defenestration window inside.
- Basilica of St. George - one of the oldest churches in Prague built in Romanesque style with Baroque, Renaissance, and Purist elements.
- Golden Lane - a cozy street once upon a time inhabited by soldiers, goldsmiths, and even Franz Kafka!
Is Prague Castle For Free?
Some parts of Prague Castle are for free. You can visit for free all the courtyards of Prague Castle and the gardens. To visit the interiors, you need tickets.
Our Local Guide Tip
- There are 3 entrances to the Prague Castle. The most convenient one is located just across the road from the tram stop Prazsky Hrad. You can easily reach it by the 22 tram.
- In the height of the tourist season (summer, Christmas, and Easter time) the Prague Castle lines through security can be very long. There is no skip-the-line for the security check, so the best time to visit will be in the afternoon when the big tourist busses leave.
- Golden Lane will be opened for one hour after the official exhibitions close. Only the stores will be opened, but if you just want to peak in, it's perfect! Just bear in mind that you won't be the only one going there without the ticket ;)
- If you are traveling to Prague between April and October, you can visit the gorgeous Royal Gardens and Southern Gardens of the Prague Castle. You can enter the Royal Gardens if you exit 22 tram on the stop Kralovsky Letohradek. The Southern Gardens are accessed through the third courtyard of the Prague Castle.
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Author: Valeriia Zahradnikova and Vaclav Zahradnik, Prague guides certified by Prague City Tourism agency. Valeriia and Vaclav have worked in tourism for over 6 years and have guided thousands of Prague visitors.