3 days in Prague: the Prague castle

Thursday, September 8, 2016

After having visited the Charles Bridge and MalĂ  Strana district and since I am really into castles it is time to explore one of the most famous, or maybe the most famous attractions in Prague, its castle or Hrad, that dominates the entire district, called Hradcany.
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Before exploring the castle, I stopped by a couple of attractions: coming from the Charles Bridge you find the Strahov Monastery (Strahovske Klaster). Built in 1140 by King Vladislav II, it was redesigned in Baroque style to contain a library with other 130,000 books ( mostly Bohemian literature).
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Not far from it you can get to Loreto Square (Loretanske namesti) where you can find Cernin Palace and the Sanctuary of Loreto (Loreta), replica of the sanctuary of Loreto, in Italy.

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And finally left behind these buildings, we are in front of the Prague Castle (Hrad), the royal castle. It is a complex of buildings that were unified along the centuries. Since its creation ( approximately around the 9th  Century) it has become the center of the administrative and spiritual power (i.e. the cathedral), then imperial center and finally residence when its military function came to an end.

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Outside of the castles there are the guards that make every day the ceremony of the change at 12. Anyway, since I do not like this kind of things - I did something a bit crazy and funn - my personal psychological support to to the soldier.

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The castle is a huge complex and once crossed the gate dedicated to the empress Mary Theresa, you find the monument arch dedicated to the emperor Matthew, built in 1614.

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Crossed also this gate you enter into the second courtyard where you find the Prague Castle Picture Gallery (Obrazarna Prazskeho hradu) on your left side and a Baroque fountain in the middle.
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There is a second door that takes to the royal garden and to the Belvedere but we will explore later. Here you can see the stunning St. Vitus Cathedral.
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Going back to the main route, you must bend up to admire the stunning St Vitus Cathedral (Katedraly Svaty Vita).
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As any other part of the castle, also the cathedral was built in different moments and not during a unique period. The construction started in the 10th Century and the last modifications were realized in the 20th Century. The definitive Gothic structure substituted the previous Romanesque one in 1344, thanks to the design of Mathieu d'Arras.

The authentic gem of this cathedral, besides the two towers and the central tower - 99 meters high - is the chorus with its glass windows.
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The impressive archs give the entire structure an incredible lightness sensation and the stained glass windows make the interior absolutely stunning. This was realized by Mathieu d'Arras and also the Bohemian Parler later.
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Do not miss also the St. Wenceslaus chapel. Unfortunately, when I visited this stunning cathedral, there was no portable battery, so my camera was completely gone and therefore I must add pics from internet to complete this travel along the Prague castle.

Immediately close to the Cathedral, there is also another important building: the Old Royal Palace ( Stary kralovsky palac). 
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Source: www.wikipedia.com
Even rhe old royal palace followed the destiny of the other buildings: a construction started in an epoque and modified in the later centuries. It became the headquarters of the Bohemian dukes and its main attraction is for sure the big hall of Vladislav II, 62 meters long and 16 meters wide.
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Source: www.panoramio.com
Once you leave the Old Royal Palace another interesting place is for sure the Powder Tower (Prazna vez).  It is also called Miluka: it is approximately 20 meters high and it was the place of the chemical lab of Ruldolph II, re-created now for touristic purposes. It was also a powder warehouse and also an artillery production site.
Source: www.praguecityline.com
Behind St. Vitus Cathedral and the Powder Tower, you find the St. George complex, in particular St. George Basilica (Bazilika Svaty Jiri). It was the oldest Bohemian monastery, built in 975 and as the other buildings renovated, modified and enlarged during the 17th Century. 


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Source: www.wikipedia.org
One of the best attractions of the Prague Castle is for sure the Golden Lane (Zlata Ulicka). If you have seen so far monumental buildings and stunning monumentals and masterpieces, you cannot be not impressed by this little lane on the southern corner of the large Prague Castle. It seems to be a sort of fairytale place, created by a series of little houses.
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Source: www.grandhotelpraha.cz
The legend tells that Rudolph II of Ausburg built these houses for his alchemists in order to find the philosopher's stone and produce gold. The story told instead that some merchants and gold smiths opened their laboratory and then some houses were opened to host the soldiers of the castle.


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Source: www.cindyknoke.com
They seem to be the Smurfs' houses, even inside :-) At the number 22, it was told that the writer Franz Kafka lived here in 1917 to write here one of his works.


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Source: www.wikipedia.org
At the end of the castle you find the Bastion Daliborka, built at the end of the 15th Century as prison until 1781. It takes the name from its first prisoner, Dalibor from Kozojedy, whose legend tells that he was used to play his violin and the inhabitants were enchanted to listen to it. When he stopped playing his music, it was clear he was executed.


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Source: www.panoramio.com
There is still a part to explore: do you remember that on the northern side there was a small door that took to some gardens? You need to cross this door first and then the Powder Bridge (Prasny most).
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Here you access to the Royal Gardens, developed in parallel to the Prague Castle. They were built as entertainment, relaxation and to keep rare vegetation species. In particular, besides a light walk along these gardens, you should not miss the Belvedere of Queen Anna ( Letohradek kravovny Anny). It is considered the best Renaissance building in Prague and it was a gift from the emperor to his wife and built by the Italian architect Paolo della Stella.

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Of course there is a nice panorama of Prague.
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Travel tips:

  • Take into accout you could spend an entire afternoon or even a day if you decide to visit all the attractions.
  • It is the largest castle complex in the world, with an area of almost 70,000 m2.
  • There are several option of tickets: I would recommend the most comprehensive one, the Prague Castle Circuit A, that costs 350 CZ, corresponding to 12,9 Euros. If you need or want to consider more options, if you have less time please check the options here.
  • If you want to visit faster, I would recommend the Circuit B.
  • If you want to climb the Southern Tower of St. Vitus Cathedral you must pay an additional fee of 150 CZK, around 5,50 Euros.
Where to sleep:
  • Budget accomodation: particularly indicated if you need a really simple apartment and do not want to spend a lot, the Hradcany is located at 700m from the Castle and you can choose different size. An apartment for 2 people costs 35 Euros per night, for 3 people 45 Euros. Breakfast excluded but you can get it for 4 Euros per night per person.
  • Medium budget: EA Hotel Jeleni Dvur Prague Castle, located close to the castle, is a 3-star hotel, ideal for couples, breakfast included and prices from 80 Euros per double room per night.
  • Luxury accomodation: Romantik U Raka, located at 600 meters from the castle in a really quiet and charming area in a historical building, breakfast included, prices from 155 Euros per price per person. Great quality - price!

Do not miss the last itineray of Prague: the new town and the Vysehrad.

4 commenti:

Annika said...

These stunning architectures really captures my eyes. BTW, do you have a hotel or Inn to recommend? It might be helpful if you have.

Marco Zannin said...

Hi Annika, thanks for stopping by and the nice comment. What is your budget before giving you any advice?

Wedding Planner said...

hi its really nice post. you share very nice information with us.

Marco Zannin said...

Thanks for your comment :-)

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