|Prague Castle (Pražský hrad) is the No. 1 tourist attraction in Prague, and the largest ancient castle complex in the world.
Founded around 880 AD, Prague Castle is the city's most recognisable landmark; perched majestically on the hillside above the Lesser Town, it dominates the city's skyline.
For parts of the 14th, 16th and 17th centuries, the castle was the seat of the Kings of Bohemia. Today, it is the official residence of the President of Czechia.
Prague Castle is not a single edifice, but a complex of buildings and open spaces covering some 7 hectares (18 acres). It is centred around three great courtyards and enclosed within huge castle walls.
An eventful history spanning differing political and religious forces, along with various rebuilding programmes following destructive wars and fires, have produced an intriguing mix of squares, buildings and fortifications. There are palaces, state apartments, great halls, churches, a monastery, viewing towers, and museums and art galleries.
The most prominent structure in the Prague Castle complex is St. Vitus Cathedral, the largest and most important temple in Prague. The coronation of medieval kings and queens was undertaken here.
St. Vitus also boasts the Great South Tower, which you can climb for spectacular views over the city.
Connecting the great courtyards to the outlying castle buildings are a maze of streets, the most notable of which is Golden Lane. Dating from the 15th century, skilled artisans once lived and worked in the houses lining this street, providing goods and services for the inhabitants of Prague Castle. During the reign of Rudolf II (1552-1612), the mystical art of alchemy was practised here!
A ceremonial Changing of the Guard, which includes a fanfare and flag exchange, is held daily at 12.00 in the first courtyard of Prague Castle.
A ceremonial Substitution of the Guard, when the sentries change, is held on the hour every hour 07.00 to 18.00 at the entrance gates to the castle.
Prague Castle has landscaped gardens too, open for visitors to stroll around. The most significant are the Royal Gardens (open all year) and the South Gardens (open March to October); on a clear day, the views over Prague from the South Gardens are quite exquisite.
HOW TO VISIT PRAGUE CASTLE
There is no charge to enter the Prague Castle complex and walk around the courtyards, streets and gardens, where you can admire the grand monuments up close from the outside.
To enter any of the buildings and national monuments, however, requires a ticket.
The best way to visit Prague Castle is to book a guided tour, such as the Prague Castle Tour With Admissions, the Prague Castle Tour, or a general Prague City Tour that has a visit to Prague Castle in its itinerary. Tours are led by expert guides, to ensure you gain a true understanding of the history and significance of everything you see.
Alternatively, visitors can experience the grandeur of the castle by attending a classical concert in one of the historic buildings. Currently, concerts are held at Lobkowicz Palace and St. George's Basilica.
Summary of options for visiting Prague Castle:
1. Self-Guided Prague Castle Tickets:
Make your own way up to the castle and buy a self-guided Prague Castle Ticket at the ticket office. Arrive early as the queues can be lengthy.
Ticket Price: 450 CZK. Audio Guide: 350 CZK extra.
2. Prague Castle Tours:
The Prague Castle Tour With Admissions + Boat Trip and the Prague Castle Tour both include transport up to the castle and a guided walking tour of the castle complex.
OR, experience the beauty of the castle in the evening: Prague Castle by Night & Alchemy Tour.
3. Prague City Tours:
Prague City Tours with Prague Castle in their itinerary include transport up to the castle and a guided walking tour of the castle complex:
Prague Explorer Tour + Boat Trip
Prague City & Castle Tour + Boat Trip
Prague Historical Centre & Castle Tour + Boat Trip.
4. Prague Castle Concerts:
Classical concerts are regularly held in two buildings at Prague Castle. Performances often sell out, so advance booking is recommended.
Lunchtime concerts are staged daily at Lobkowicz Palace, in its most beautiful room, the 17th century Baroque Concert Hall.
Early evening concerts are staged several times a month in the 10th century St. George's Basilica.
View listings and book Prague concert tickets.
PRAGUE TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRE
Prague Castle houses a Prague Tourist Information Centre. It
provides details of Prague events, museums and monuments, and supplies maps and public transport information - tourist information.