The history of Prague and the Czech Republic is intricately linked with the development of Prague Castle, or “Hrad.” Today, the castle complex encompasses numerous Prague attractions: St. Vitus Cathedral, the Royal Palace, St. George’s Basilica, the Powder Tower, and other monuments, courtyards, and historic buildings. No trip to the Czech Republic is complete without exploring Prague Castle.
The castle is open daily, 9 am to 5 pm. Admission to the castle complex is free, but visitors will probably want to purchase a Prague Castle tours ticket to enter the impressive buildings on the grounds. Prague Castle tours without a ground cost about $15 for adults. Guided Prague Castle tours cost about $18. Less expensive tickets for individual buildings or combinations of buildings are also available starting at about $2 each.
The history of Prague Castle can be traced to the ninth century, when the Bohemian royal family established settlements near the banks of the Vltava River. By the early tenth century, the Prague Castle complex was the home to the Czech head of state as well as the bishop of Prague. St. Vitus Cathedral, one of the most important of all Prague attractions, was begun in the tenth century. Main additions came in the fourteenth century with the construction of the large Gothic chapels, including St. Wenceslas Chapel and its lavishly decorated altar. The impressive mosaic of the Last Judgment, over the intricate Golden Portal entrance, was completed in 1370. Subsequent additions were made in the 1700s. It is well worth a visit inside the massive basilica to see the dazzling stained glass windows, 21 chapels, and the royal crypt, which houses the remains of members of the Czech royal family.
Prague Castle tours continue to the Royal Palace, the historic home of the royal family. The palace is home to a permanent exhibition detailing the history of Prague Castle and is still used for special state events. Entrance to the museum is included in the price of a Prague Castle tours ticket or can be purchased separately for about $6 each.
Other Prague attractions in the castle complex include St. George’s Basilica. This impressive Romanesque structure dates to the tenth century and housed Bohemia’s first convent. Today, the basilica exhibits items from the Czech National Gallery’s collection of Gothic and baroque art.
A visitor to Prague could easily spend a day on one of the Prague Castle tours and not see everything. Staying in a Prague Castle hotel will let you explore the complex at your ease over the course of several days. The best Prague Castle hotel is the U Krále Karla on Nerodova street. The Gothic-baroque building is full of period furniture, prints, and stained-glass windows, and rooms are comfortable and quiet. Nearby Hotel Neruda, named after famous Czech writer Jan Neruda, is an elegant boutique hotel. This Prague Castle hotel carefully unites Bohemia’s Renaissance past and promising future, combining modern elegance with accents from the original fourteenth-century building.
Like other famous n castles — Windsor Castle in England, Mont St. Michel in France, and Stirling Castle in Scotland — Prague Castle invokes scenes from a European history long past. Prague Castle is truly a must-see attraction.