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 the castle, and it is 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 Prague, 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 historic buildings within the castle walls. There are palaces, churches, great halls, state apartments, a monastery, viewing towers, fortifications, museums and art galleries, and Golden Lane.
Visitors can enter the Prague Castle complex, wander around the courtyards, and enter the first part of St. Vitus Cathedral for free. But to gain a true understanding of the history and significance of it all, we recommend visiting the castle as part of a guided tour; either a dedicated Prague Castle tour or a general Prague tour.
Alternatively, visitors can purchase a ticket to visit the historic buildings by themselves.
You can also book a ticket for a classical concert in one of the historic buildings.
How to visit Prague Castle:
1. Prague Castle Tour:
For an in-depth guided tour of the castle, we recommend the Prague Castle Tour.
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. This involves a guided walk through the castle complex and entrance to St. Vitus Cathedral.
All tours include transportation up to the castle. Some also 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. Historic Buildings 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.
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 main gates reflects this. It takes place at midday all year round, and includes a fanfare and banner exchange.
Security Checks at Prague Castle:
Security checks at Prague Castle can result in lengthy queues. The morning is generally the busiest, with a waiting time between 10 and 50 minutes. Visitors are advised to allow for this when planning their visit.