Prague Castle, founded around 880 AD, is the largest medieval castle in Europe and was once the seat of the Kings of Bohemia. Today, the President of the Czech Republic rules from here. And it is also Prague's premier tourist attraction.
Prague Castle (Pražský Hrad) is located in the Castle District (Hradčany), which is above the Lesser Town (Malá Strana).
The Prague Castle complex covers over 7 hectares (18 acres) and is centred around three great courtyards. The dominant building within the complex, and the most recognisable landmark in the city, is St. Vitus Cathedral. To some visitors St. Vitus is Prague Castle, but it is only the start.
Destructive wars and fires (and the subsequent renovations), along with differing political forces have resulted in an intriguing mix of palaces, churches, great halls, state apartments, a monastery, viewing towers, fortifications, museums, art galleries, and finally Golden Lane.
Visitors to Prague Castle can wander around the courtyards for free, but to enter any of the historic buildings, to gain a true understanding of their history, you need to purchase a self-guided ticket or ideally visit the castle as part of a guided tour.
How to visit Prague Castle
1. Prague Castle Tour:
For an in depth guided visit of the castle including admission to the major buildings, we recommend the Prague Castle Tour (April-October). Includes pick up from your hotel and transportation up to the castle.
2. Prague Tours:
All our Prague Tours include Prague Castle in their itinerary - a guided walk through the castle with admission to St. Vitus Cathedral.
Some tours include pick up from your hotel. All include transportation up to the castle:
Prague Grand City Sightseeing Tour
Prague Grand City Sightseeing Tour & Boat
Best of Prague Walking Tour
Prague All Inclusive Walking Tour & Boat
Prague Intro Sightseeing Tour
Prague Castle by Night Walking Tour.
3. Self-guided Ticket:
Purchase a self-guided ticket at Prague Castle on the day of your visit. Arrive early to avoid the queues. Tickets cost 350czk for all areas, 250czk for the most significant.
Classical Concerts at Prague Castle
Classical concerts present another popular way for visitors to experience the grandeur of Prague Castle:
Lunchtime concerts are held daily at Lobkowicz Palace.
Early evening concerts are held regularly at St. George's Basilica.
History of Prague Castle
In the 9th century the first known building was erected on the site of Prague Castle. In the 12th century it was transformed into a Romanesque palace. And in the 14th century, under Charles IV, it was rebuilt in the Gothic style. A further reconstruction of the Royal Palace then took place under the Jagellons at the end of the 15th century.
A major fire in 1541 resulted in more reconstruction work. The Spanish Hall was added during the reign of Rudolf II (1552-1612). And final alterations were made by Empress Maria Theresa (1717-1780).
After World War I, renovations to the castle buildings and to the Prague Castle Gardens were undertaken by the architect J. Plecnik.
Present Day at Prague Castle
Prague Castle today serves as the historical and political centre for both city and state. A Changing of the Guard ceremony at the front gates reflects this. It takes place daily during the daytime on the hour every hour. The midday ceremony includes a fanfare and a banner exchange.