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 can wander around the courtyards of Prague Castle for free, but to enter the historic buildings and to gain a true understanding of their history, you should visit the castle as part of a guided tour. You can also purchase a self-guided ticket and attend a classical concert.
How to Visit Prague Castle:
1. Prague Castle Tour:
For an in depth guided tour of the castle, including admission to the major buildings, see the Prague Castle Tour. Also includes pick up from your hotel and transportation up to the castle.
2. Prague Tours:
All our Prague Tours include a visit to Prague Castle in their itinerary. This involves a guided walk through the castle complex and 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.
4. Classical Concerts at Prague Castle:
Classical concerts are a popular way to experience the grandeur of Prague Castle. Two historic buildings hold regular concerts:
Lunchtime concerts are held daily at Lobkowicz Palace.
Early evening concerts are held several times a week at St. George's Basilica.
For listings and to book tickets for classical concerts at Prague Castle: Prague concerts.
History of Prague Castle:
The first known building was erected on the site of Prague Castle in the 9th century. 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:
Today, Prague Castle is the official residence and office of the President of the Czech Republic. A Changing of the Guard ceremony at the front gates reflects this. It takes place on the hour every hour during the day. The midday ceremony includes a fanfare and banner exchange.