Prague Castle is the largest castle complex in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Originally dating to the 9th century, this landmark, which surrounds St. Vitus Cathedral, bears the mark of each architectural and historical era that it has lived through. To this day, it serves as the seat of the Czech state.
Located in the district of Hrad?any (the Castle Quarter), overlooking Malá Strana, this sprawling series of connected palaces, courtyards and gardens covers almost 70,000 square meters. It’s well worth dedicating a day to exploring the grounds both inside and out, as most of the castle is accessible to visitors despite being home to the day-to-day functioning of the Czech government.
The most popular sites within the castle are the Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, the preserved medieval Golden Lane and St. George’s Basilica. Make sure to catch the changing of the guard on the hour outside the castle’s main entrance on Hradcanské námestí – or the daily ceremony in the First Courtyard at noon, which includes a fanfare and flag ceremony – and visit one of the several museum exhibits housed within.
The castle is itself a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it is thought to have been founded in 880 by Prince Borivoj of the Premyslid Dynasty. Over the centuries, its original Romanesque buildings were joined by Gothic extensions before getting much of its modern-day appearance thanks to renovations by Slovenian architect Josip Ple?nik during the First Republic.
St. Vitus Cathedral, distinctly visible from much of the historical centre of Prague, houses many priceless works of art, as well as St. Wenceslas Chapel and the Crypt, which is the final resting place of the Bohemian kings. The Bohemian Crown Jewels, which are displayed with much fanfare to mark special occasions, are also kept here.
Prague Castle sights April – October 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily November – March 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily Closed Dec. 24
Prague Castle premises April – October 5 a.m. – midnight daily November – March 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily
Information courtesy of praguewelcome.cz