To the casual observer, St. Vitus Cathedral (Katedrála sv. Víta) is Prague Castle
, because it is the one building that dominates the city skyline (although in reality it is just one of many buildings contained within the Prague Castle complex).
St. Vitus Cathedral was commissioned by Charles IV. It is a Gothic masterpiece and the spiritual symbol of the Czech state.
Construction began in 1344 on the site of an earlier 10th century rotunda. Its first architects, Matthias of Arras and later Peter Parler, constructed the chancel with a ring of chapels - St. Wenceslas Chapel, the Golden Portal and the lower section of the main steeple.
However, it took almost six centuries to complete, with the final phase of construction in the period 1873-1929.
As well as being the largest and most important temple in Prague, St. Vitus Cathedral has also overseen the coronation of Czech kings and queens.
In the chancel of the cathedral, in front of the high alter, is the royal mausoleum. Below this, in the crypt, there are the royal tombs. Czech kings and queens, and patron saints of the country are interred here.
St. Wenceslas Chapel is decorated with frescoes and semi-precious stones. A door in the south-western corner of the chapel leads to the Crown Chamber, in which the Bohemian Coronation Jewels are stored.
Visitors can enter the first part of St. Vitus Cathedral for free - tours of Prague include this in their itinerary.
To visit the whole of St. Vitus, take a Prague Castle Tour or purchase a Prague Castle Self-Guided Ticket.
The Great South Tower of the Cathedral was founded in the late 14th century, and reconstructed in the 16th and 18th centuries. The tower holds the largest bell in the Czech Republic, called Zikmund, which dates from the 16th century.
Visitors can climb the Great South Tower, see the bell partway up, and enjoy spectacular views over the city from the top. The tower has 287 narrow, winding steps, and is more than 90 metres high.
The Great South Tower is not included in the Prague Castle Self-Guided Ticket, and you do not need a Self-Guided Ticket in order to buy a tower ticket. Purchase tower tickets at the entrance to the tower. Price: 150czk.
To discover more about Saint Vitus Cathedral and Prague Castle, take a tour:
Prague Castle Tour
Prague Grand City Sightseeing Tour
Prague Grand City Sightseeing Tour & Boat
Prague All Inclusive Walking Tour & Boat
Prague Castle by Night Walking Tour.