Prague Castle (Pražský hrad) was founded around 880 AD. It was once the seat of the Kings of Bohemia and is the largest medieval castle in Europe.
Today, the President of the Czech Republic rules from here and it is the premier tourist attraction in Prague.
Prague Castle is located in the Castle District (Hradčany), which lies 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 structure within the complex, and the most recognisable landmark in Prague, is St. Vitus Cathedral.
To some visitors St. Vitus is Prague Castle, but it is just one of many historical buildings within the castle walls. Differing political and religious forces, along with destructive wars and fires (and the subsequent renovations), have resulted in an intriguing mix of historic buildings: palaces, churches, great halls, state apartments, a monastery, viewing towers, fortifications, museums and art galleries. And there is also Golden Lane.
Visitors can enter the Prague Castle complex and wander around the courtyards for free. But to understand the history and significance of it all, and to visit any of the buildings, we recommend taking a guided tour (either a Prague Castle Tour or a general Prague tour).
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. Your guide will take care of the tickets and find the shortest security queue into the castle.
The tour includes a hotel pick up, transportation up to the castle, and admission to the historic buildings.
2. Prague Tours:
All our general Prague Tours include a visit to Prague Castle in their itinerary. Your guide will find the shortest security queue into the castle, and take you on a guided walk through the castle complex, with entrance to St. Vitus Cathedral.
All our tours include transportation up to the castle, and some include a hotel pick up:
Prague Grand City Sightseeing Tour
Prague Grand City Sightseeing Tour & Boat
Prague All Inclusive Walking Tour & Boat
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 reduce the queue time at both security and at the ticket office. Tickets cost 350czk for all areas, 250czk 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.
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 main gates reflects this. It takes place at midday all year round, and includes a fanfare and banner exchange.
Security checks at Prague Castle can result in lengthy queues, with a waiting time between 10 minutes and 50 minutes. The morning is generally the busiest.
Note: ALL visitors must pass through security. It is not possible to skip the line. BUT, if you book a guided tour in advance (see above), an experienced guide can lead you to where the shortest queues are.