Prague Castle Tour

Order Tour Code: P 3
Tour availability: Tour available in summer season Tour available in winter season Recognized by UN as an unique heritage site
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This is a four hour walking tour of the entire Prague Castle area.
The guide will explain to you the history of this Czech most significant cultural monument.
After seeing all of the interiors that are open to the public, the Cathedral of st. Vitus, the Old Royal Palace, the Basilica of St. George , the Golden Lane, you will be amazed by its thousand years old history.

4 HOUR TOUR
GUIDE ONLY

Tickets to attractions are not included in the tour price.

The Prague Castle was most likely founded in around 880 by Prince Borivoj of the Premyslid Dynasty. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world, with an area of almost 70,000 m². A UNESCO World Heritage site, it consists of a large-scale composition of palaces and ecclesiastical buildings of various architectural styles, from Roman-style buildings from the 10th century through Gothic modifications in the 14th century. The famous Slovenian architect Josip Plečnik was responsible for extensive renovations in the time of the First Republic (1918-1938). Since the Velvet Revolution, the Prague Castle has undergone significant and ongoing repairs and reconstructions.

What you can see there:

St. Vitus Cathedral
St. Vitus Cathedral is the largest and the most important temple in Prague. Apart from religious services the coronations of Czech kings and queens also took place in here. The cathedral is a place of interment of remains of provincial patron saints, sovereigns, noblemen and archbishops.

Old Royal Palace
The Palace grew and gradually gained its present appearance from the time of its founding in the late 9th century. The original wooden building with a stone foundation wall was converted into a stone Romanesque palace by Prince Sobeslav in the early 12th century. Remainders of it have been preserved in the underground to the present. The palace was adjoined on its eastern side by All Saints' Chapel, which was consecrated in 1185.

The Vladislav Hall
From the 16th century the Vladislav Hall served particularly royal state purposes. It was the scene of coronation festivities and banquets, knights' tournaments and markets with artistic and luxurious goods. The Vladislav Hall still partly fulfils the state function: the elections of the president of the Czech Republic and ceremonial gatherings connected with important days in the life of this country take place in it.

All Saints' Church
The All Saints' Church was built by Petr Parler on the site of the Romanesque palace chapel, also consecrated to All Saints. According to old sources the church was magnificently decorated in the manner of La Chapelle in Paris. However, after the great fire of 1541 only its peripheral walls remained.

St. George's Basilica
St. George's Basilica originated as the second church at Prague Castle. Only the foundations of the building, founded about 920 by Prince Vratislav I have been preserved. When the convent for Benedictine nuns was founded in 973 the church was enlarged and reconstructed.

St. George's Convent
Collection of 19th-century Art in Bohemia Permanent Exhibition of the Collection of 19th-century Art National Gallery in Prague In spring 2008, the interior spaces of the former St. George's convent for Benedictine nuns at Prague Castle underwent reconstruction and were adapted to house the Gallery's permanent exhibition of 19th-century art.

Golden Lane
The Golden Lane originated after the construction of the northern wall of the Castle. The area of the northern bailey was used for the building of modest dwellings, which are now the last remainder of the small-scale architecture of Prague Castle. They were inhabited by the castle servants, perhaps goldsmiths (the name "Golden Lane" is documented from the 16th century] and the castle marksmen. The tiny houses were occupied until World War II, but already during the period of the First Republic care was taken to ensure that the picturesque character of the lane was not changed in the course of modifications. From 1916 to 1917 house No. 22 was inhabited by the writer Franz Kafka.

Prague Castle Picture Gallery
Paintings of the famous collection of the emperor Rudolph II. are displayed in Prague Castle Picture Gallery through the whole year. Among more than one hundred unique paintings also works of Titian, Aachen and Rubens can be seen.

Powder Tower - Mihulka
A passage-way running from Vikarska street afford access to the northern bailey of Prague Castle with the tower called Mihulka, built in the late 15th century as a part of the new bulwarks designed by Benedikt Ried. The name "Mihulka" evidently originated in the 19th century. Previously the structure has been successively called the New Tower, the Round Bastion, the Laboratory or the Swedish Laboratory, and the Powder Tower.

Rozmberk Palace - the Institute of the Noblewomen
A few rooms were opened to the public with the exhibition reminding the Institute of the noblewomen.

Lobkowicz Palace
Jirska street runs from the square U sv. Jiri (St. George square) in the direction of the eastern gate of Prague Castle. Standing on the southern side in its lower part is Lobkowicz Palace. The Renaissance palace had four wings surrounding a courtyard and it was outstanding for its rich architectural decoration. During the period of from 1651 to 1668 Carlo Luragho adapted it in Early Baroque style for Eusebius of Lobkowicz, then the Bohemian governor. Two rooms and the chapel on the first floor have been preserved in their original form. The palace is privately owned and there is possible to see the art collection of the Lobkowitz family.

The Supreme Burgrave's House
A part of the front of Jirska street is formed by a fence wall of the courtyard of the Supreme Burgrave's House. Above the entrance gate there are four coat-of-arms of the supreme burgraves of the 17th and 18th centuries. The burgraves, whose office developed from the function of the castle castellan, deputized for the sovereign in the times of his absence. The office was held by members of the most important noble families. Nowadays the Toy Museum.

Gardens of the Prague Castle
The verdure around Prague Castle today consists of six gardens. Along the northern face wall there is the historically most valuable of the gardens - Royal Garden, stretching to the west there is a modern garden next to the building of the Riding School and still further on there is Lumbe Garden, now used as a Castle nursery garden.

Royal Summer Palace
The Royal Summer Palace, also called Queen Anne's Summer Palace, was built to the order of Ferdinand I from 1538 to 1560 on the eastern edge of the Royal Garden. The gallery, provided with an arcade and rich relief decoration, is the work of Italian stonemasons and the superstructure of the first floor and its unique roofing were built by Hans Tirol and Bonifaz Wohlmut. The Summer Palace was intended to serve as a scene of events organized for the entertainment of the court and also as a feature enhancing the pleasure of a sojourn in the garden.




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Prague Castle Tour

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"Charles IV of Luxembourg (May 14,1316 - November 29, 1378), originally baptised Wenceslas, was the last descendant of the first old Czech dynasty of the Premyslids on his mother Elizabeth´s side. His father, Czech king John of Luxembourg, separated him from his mother and, after many years of separation, sent him to France to be raised at the royal court. There he received an excellent education. One of his educators was Pierre Roger, who foretold the young prince an imperial future. The sharp-witted young man responded to this flattery by saying that his educator would first have to become a pope. Both of these prophecies came true. Pierre Roger became Pope Climent VI, and Moravian Margrave and Roman King Charles was elected Roman Emperor by imperial elecetors on July 11, 1346. One month after the death of his father, Charles became the Czech King. During his reign, Bohemia (Czech Rep.) became an oasis of serenity and peace, Prague thrived, and Charles founded Charles University in his royal seat. This is why he is called the Father of the Homeland.His Latin autobiography Vita Caroli became famous.

Peter Parler - the architect, the builder of St. Vitus´s Cathedral, the Charles Bridge, the New Town, the castle Karlstejn, Prague of the 14th century buildings.
Peter Parler´s exact date and place of birth has not yet been documented. It is generally believed that he was probably born in Cologne, Germany, sometime in 1333. Peter Parler came from a family of master builder Henry Parler. Members of this large family worked in construction works around all of Europe - in Nurnberg, Vienna, Basil, Ulm, Zegreb and other cities.
Peter (Pierre) means stone, Parler (parler) means to speak in French.
His father Henry Parler was in charge of the construction of the Holy Cross Church in Schwabish Gmund town, and from the year 1336, of the construction of the Minster in Augsburg as well. According to tradition, young Peter received his master builder´s education at his father´s works. A twenty-year-old Peter worked on the construction of Virgin mary´s Church in Nurnberg, the Western part of which was founded by Charles IV. Peter also worked on the construction of the cathedral in Cologne, Germany, where he met his first wife, the daughter of stone-mason Hamm. His stay in Strasbourg is more than interesting for us in respect to the circumstainces of the origin of the Prague Horologe."

"Another source of information is a memorial stone plate embedded by the canonry in the Southern pillar of the Golden gate of St. Vitus´s Cathedral. Its inscription specifies the consecration of the chancel to Virgin Mary and St. Vitus in the year of 1385, the foundation of the triple-aisle nave in the year of 1392 when rector Vaclav Radec was in charge of the construction and Peter Parler directed the construction works, and the transfer of the remains of St. Adalbert and the Five Saint Brothers from an old church to a new church in the year of 1396. Peter Parler is mentioned twice in weekly construction bills dated from the year of 1373. Peter´s sandstone tomb slab, discovered together with that of Matthias in the year of 1928, says that Peter Parelr died on 13July 1399 at the age of sixty-seven.
Peter Parler was commissioned in Prague to continue with the construction of St. Vitus´s Cathedral. The cathedral church at the Prague Castle was founded on 21 Nov. 1344. Its first master builder was Matthias of Arras whom Charles IV had met during one of his frequent visits to Avignon, France. The Prague bishopric was just about to be promoted to archbishopric, and it became necessary to build a representational cathedral for the new ecclesiastical province. Matthias was commissioned to build the cathedral and was in charge of its construction for eight years. He completed the construction of the chancel, eight side chapels, and pillars.
A twenty-three-year-old Peter Parler took on the construction which, after the death of Matthias in the year of 1352, had been abandoned.
The emperor had no time to immediately look after a new master builder. When travelling through Schwabisch Gmund on the verge of the beautiful summer of 1353, the emperor noticed a new construction of the Holy Cross Church that was beautiful. Therefore, Charles IV stopped there.
When Henry parler was showing the church to the emperor, the latter became intrigued by the stone-mason´s work of Henry´s son Peter. After having seen the church, Charles IV asked the young man if he would be interested in directing the construction of the in-progress cathedral in Prague, which the emperor probably considered the most important ecclesiastical building in all his empire. The young architect became the head of the construction works, quickly hiring new people..."

Saint Vitus´s Cathedral
Petr Parler employed one hundred and eighty people in his workshops, including two dozens Czechs, the rest came from Germany, Flanders, Poland, and HUngary. Other works were similar in their "Babylonian" composition, and as a result workers were unable to communicate by any means other than a kind of secret sign language. It was common that many old stonemasons and their apprentices were unable to read and write. They had to communicate with signs and symbols, this is demonstrated in the legend of the South Portal. The southern portal became the main entrance at Charles IV´s request, despite the unsusual tradition of entering from the west, in this way Charles wished to emphasise the importance of the ruling court.
Some secret signs found their way into secular life, for instance, the symbolic crossing of one´s neck with a wetted forefinger. In Europe and Arab countries in the Late Middle Ages it formed part of a special truth-saying oath, by which a person could proclaim their honesty. The person wetted his finger with his lips, ran his finger across his neck, and announced: "Behold! It was wet, now it is dry. God punish me...if I lie".
Every foundry had its own recognisable symbol in the form of a geometric figure, which was used as a template for the personal symbols of Masters, Parlers, and Journeymen. Under cetrain circumstances these symbols could be used as a coat-of-arms. Members of the stone works lived fraternal lives, and met together at dawn to practise various religious rituals and rites. They recognised each other through secret symbols, sayings, and sometimes clothes.

Gargoyles of St. Vitus´s Cathedral
As if cut from the devil´s cloth, creatures half-human, half-beast, with contorted expressions of mockery and rage, hurling water from their spouting mouths on earthly sinners of the Middle Ages. the presence of these "dragons from heaven" seemed to indicate that even the "strength of the serpent could be tamed", and gargoyles were found on all churches, in the highest places, under vaults and over arches, leering from tower walls and peaks.



Prague Golden Castle (the 14th century)
The fact that Charles IV´s concept of Prague as the New Jerusalem endeavoured to combine the symbology of the Terrestirial and Celestial Jerusalem is supported by other acts of the great emperor in our capital city.
The most sacred place of St. Vitus´s Cathedral - St. Wenceslas´s Chapel - bears the stamp of unambigous symbology. Its basic dimensions (without the vault) are cubical, its walls are encrusted with twelve types of precious stones - exactly those mentioned in the Revelation of St. John In the Middle Ages, the entire castle that had been reconstructed from ruins by the order of Charles IV resembled Jerusalem. Historical annals show that in the year of 1370 it had two castle towers, the Eastern and Western tower covered with gilded leads which reflected sunrays to a great distance.
Although today both gilded towers are a thing of the past, the idea of the golden , shining castle of the Luxembourg dynasty viiewed from the Old Town Bridge Tower on sunny summer days is more than impressive.

Powder Tower Mihulka
Prague at the turn of the 16th century was a difficult place to resist, attracting many alchemists, magi, adventures, wise men and crooks who crisscrossed Europe. At the time it was the largest city in Europe, and was renowned for its riches and above all, freedom.
The Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II Habsburg, created a city with a deep spiritual atmosphere that was without precedent.
The Prague Castle was governed in Rudolphine freedom.
Along with Queen Anna´s summer palace the most important building for Czech alchemists during Rudolph´s rein was Prague Castle´s Powder Tower, known as Mihulka.
The tower was built in 1496 and served as a cannon bastion overlloking the Stag Moat. Later it was used as a bell foundry, where St. Vitus Cathedral´s greatest bell, Sigismund, was made in 1549. Later, the tower was used for storing gun-powder, until 1754. During Rudolph II.´ sreign it was used as an alchemist laboratory.

"It was difficult for the alchemists to breathe in the muggy atmosphere of the laboratory, full of smoke, gases and a medieval stench, omnipresent in all European cities at a time when sewer systems were still a mystery. Legend says that the alchemists revolted, demanding they be allowed to breathe the fresh air of the Stag Moat, below the Prague Castle. The emperor turned down their request, as it was unthinkable that nonaristocrats would mix with noble society, who ogten gathered in the gardens. Still defiant, the alchemists continued to protest by cutting off all their hair, and throwing their various vessels, bellows, ovens and cauldrons out of the Powdre Tower into the Stag Moat below. Rudolph II was furious, not only because the alchemists had threatened they would produce no more gold, but because they were interrupting the first and the most important principle of their trade: Never abandon a work in progress. Rudolph II had the protesting alchemists brought to the Stag Moat, where he had them thrown into iron cages hung from trees."

Prague Castle - Golden Lane
During the blossoming of the Royal Art under the Emperor Rudolph II, the alchemists did not live in the world-renowend Golden Lane, but in the nearby Poder Tower, known as "Mihulka", and the summer palace Belvedere. The image of the alchemists in their homes is deeply rooted in the imagination, according to legend the emperor personally checked the alchemists´ work in progress, when their doors were locked from inside, and they were apparently at work on transmutation.
Sources of the period reveal that two alchemists were active in the Golden Lane at the turn of the 19th century, one was a baron, the other, a university professor. It is said that the two managed to creat a large amount of gold, but both died tragically, of unknown causes.
"A small house, visible only on some nights, stands near the castle walls at the end of the Golden Lane, it is called The Last Lantern, and ancient tradition states, that the mysterious foundation of Prague lies within its walls. It is abridge between the seen and the unseen, a sphere of human sight that spots the invisible city."



"Aghats you trace your likenes in the mosaics at Saint Vitus And that day almost died of grief to see yourself portrayed As Lazarus distracted by daylight The hands of the ghetto clock run backward You also creep slowly backward through life Climbing to the Hradchen listening at twilight to Czech songs from the taverns..."
by French Poet Guillaume Apollinaire
champion of surrealism and Cubism
who visited Prague in 1902 and was taken by the city´s beauty He wrote about his impressions in the essay "The Prague Passerby", which formed part of his collection of Fantastic prose. In the story the Passerby transforms into Ahasver, a legendary figure of Medieval mysteries, in the poet´s version Ahasver is full of life, dancing in pubs in the night."

text - Jiri Kuchar - "Praha esotericka"

Summer Tourist Season (April 1 till October 31)
Prague Castle complex
6.00 - 22.00
Historical buildings
9.00 – 17.00
Old Royal Palace, exhibition "The Story of Prague Castle", St. George's Basilica, Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower, Prague Castle Picture Gallery, Powder Tower, Rosenberg Palace
St. Vitus Cathedral
Mo - Sa: 9.00 – 17.00; Su: 12.00 - 17.00
Last entrance is always at 16.40. Visitors without the tickets can see the church from the place below the western music gallery. Participants in services in the cathedral enter without the entrance fee. For more information about regular services and special ceremonies see www.katedralasvatehovita.cz.
Exhibition "The Treasure of St. Vitus Cathedral"
10.00 – 18.00
Great South Tower of St. Vitus Cathedral
10.00 – 18.00 Last entrance is always at 17.30
Exhibition halls
10.00 – 18.00
Prague Castle Riding School, Imperial Stables, Theresian Wing, Royal Summer Palace
Prague Castle Gardens
10.00 – 18.00
The Garden on the Bastion
6.00 – 22.00
Winter Tourist Season (November 1 till March 31)
Prague Castle complex
6.00 - 22.00
Historical buildings
9.00 – 16.00
Old Royal Palace, exhibition "The Story of Prague Castle", St. George's Basilica, Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower, Prague Castle Picture Gallery, Powder Tower, Rosenberg Palace.
St. Vitus Cathedral
Mo - Sa: 9.00 – 16.00; Su: 12.00 - 16.00
Last entrance is always at 15.40. Visitors without the tickets can see the church from the place below the western music gallery. Participants in services in the cathedral enter without the entrance fee. For more information about regular services and special ceremonies see www.katedralasvatehovita.cz.
Exhibition "The Treasure of St. Vitus Cathedral"
10.00 – 17.00
Great South Tower of St. Vitus Cathedral
10.00 – 17.00
Last entrance is always at 16.30
Exhibition halls - 10.00 – 18.00
Prague Castle Riding School, Imperial Stables, Theresian Wing, Royal Summer Palace
Prague Castle Gardens
Prague Castle gardens (except of the one below) including the Stag Moat are closed in Winter tourist season.
The Garden on the Bastion - 6.00 – 22.00




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Last updated on May 15, 2017