Prague Castle

Prague Castle overlooks the Vltava River and the city.

No trip to Prague is complete without a visit the Castle. Prague Castle has been integral to the history of the city, Bohemia, and the Czech Republic for over one thousand years. Founded in the 9th century, it covers 45 hectares (135 acres) with a range of architectural styles from the last millennium.

Towering over the castle, is St. Vitus' Cathedral. The massive structure was started in 1344, but it took almost 600 years to finish. With flying butresses and gargoyles, it's highly reminicent of Notre Dame in Paris. The cathedral houses the remains of Bohemian kings and the crown jewels. The stained glass windows are outstanding, including some by Alphonse Mucha, the famous Art Nouveau painter.

Stained Glass Panel by Alfonse Mucha

The Old Royal Palace is another popular attraction on the Castle grounds. It housed many of Bohemia's kings and princes over the centuries.

Other buildings of note on the castle grounds include St. George's Basilica, St George's convent (both dating from the 10th century), the Prague Castle Gallery featuring works by Tintoretto and Rubens) and Queen Anna's Summerhouse with the Singing Fountain, dating from the 1500s.

The Castle looks like a fairy tale dream at night.

The Castle's beautiful gardens (closed in winter) are a must see, for the views as well as the flora. Overlooking the city, they provide a brief escape from the hordes of tourists, and an excellent photographic opportunity.

Another sight to catch is the changing of the guards at the palace gates every hour, and at noon there's a bit more of a ceremony.

The Castle grounds are open to the public daily from 5am to 12 midnight (April to October) and 5am to 11pm (November to March). The attractions in the Castle are open from 9am to 5pm (April to October) and 9am to 4pm (November to March). The gardens are open daily from 10am to 6pm (April to October).

Admission to the Palace grounds and gardens is free. However certain attractions charge admission, including the Old Royal Palace. In season there's usually a long line to purchase these tickets, so get there early and avoid the crowds.

Prague Castle
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