|Prague Castle (Pražský hrad) was founded around 880 AD and is the largest ancient castle complex in the world.|
Prague Castle is the No. 1 tourist attraction in Prague and the city's most recognisable landmark. It dominates the skyline, sitting majestically on a hillside overlooking the city in the Castle District (Hradčany), above the Lesser Town.
For parts of the 14th, 16th and 17th centuries Prague Castle was the seat of the Kings of Bohemia. Today, the President of the Czech Republic rules from here.
Prague Castle is not a single building, it is a complex which covers 7 hectares (18 acres), centred around three great courtyards.
Its most prominent structure is St. Vitus Cathedral. However, this is just one of the many historical buildings contained within the castle walls.
Differing political and religious forces, along with rebuilding following destructive wars and fires, have produced the intriguing mix of structures that make up the Prague Castle complex: churches, palaces, great halls, state apartments, towers, fortifications, a monastery, museums and art galleries. Not forgetting Golden Lane.
The courtyards of the Prague Castle complex are free to enter. But to enter any of the buildings you need to buy a historic buildings admission ticket.
For visitors to gain any kind of understanding of the history and significance of it all, we highly recommend booking either the Prague Castle Tour or a general Prague sightseeing tour (one which has a visit to the castle included in its itinerary).
Alternatively, you can join the queue at the castle to purchase a self-guided ticket.
Another option is to buy a ticket for a concert in one of the historic buildings.
HOW TO VISIT PRAGUE CASTLE:
1. Prague Castle Tour:
For an in-depth guided visit of the castle, we recommend the Prague Castle Tour. A guide will lead you through the shortest security queue into the castle, take you on a guided walk through the Prague Castle complex, and organise the historic buildings admission ticket and guide you round.
The tour includes a hotel pick up, transportation up to the castle and an historic buildings admission ticket.
2. Tours of Prague:
All Prague Experience Tours of Prague include a visit to Prague Castle in the itinerary. A guide will lead you through the shortest security queue into the castle and take you on a guided walk through the Prague Castle complex. Entrance to St. Vitus Cathedral also included.
Some tours include a hotel pick up, and all tours include transportation up to the castle from the city centre:
Prague Grand City Sightseeing Tour
Prague Grand City Sightseeing Tour & Boat
Prague All Inclusive Walking Tour & Boat
Prague Castle at Night Walking Tour.
3. Self-Guided Ticket:
Purchase a self-guided ticket at Prague Castle on the day of your visit. Arrive early to reduce the queue time at both security and at the ticket office. Tickets cost 350 CZK for all areas, 250 CZK for selected areas.
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.
The concerts are popular and tickets are limited, so advance booking is required.
Concert listings & tickets: Book Concerts.
5. Dine at Prague Castle:
Within the castle walls are several cafés, including one at Lobkowicz Palace (where classical concerts are held) which offers nice views over the city.
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 took place under the Jagellons at the end of the 15th century, but a major fire in 1541 necessitated yet more rebuilding.
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.
In recent times, the exterior of St. Vitus Cathedral has been cleaned and now gleams in the sunlight, while the stone courtyards have been renovated.
PRESENT DAY AT PRAGUE CASTLE:
Prague Castle is the official residence and office of the President of the Czech Republic.
A Changing of the Guard ceremony at the main gates reflects this. It takes place every day at midday, all year round, and includes a fanfare and banner exchange.
Easter and Christmas markets are held on the square in front of St. George's Basilica.
Security checks at Prague Castle can result in lengthy queues, with waiting times ranging between 10 and 50 minutes. The morning is generally the busiest.
Note: It is NOT possible to 'skip the line' for security. ALL visitors must pass through it.
BUT, there are several entrances to the castle, and if you book a guided tour (see above) your guide will lead you to the one with the shortest security queue, plus arrange your castle admission tickets.