Prague Castle Tour – from St Vitus Cathedral to Golden Lane

by mivvy

Take a tour of Prague Castle. Watch the changing of the guards. Admire St Vitus Cathedral, and stroll through the Golden Lane.

Prague Castle More than St Vitus Cathedral

Perched on a hilltop, Prague Castle is one of the largest castle complexes in the world and covers seven hectares (eighteen acres). It is Prague's number one tourist attraction – St Vitus Cathedral, Golden Lane the Changing of the Guards. You can easily spend an entire morning or afternoon wandering through just the grounds.  If you want to include the Cathedral, all museums and the Old Palace you will need a full day. I would strongly advise you to take a guided tour, because then you are sure to see everything from St Vitus Cathedral to the Golden Lane.

Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral
Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral
personal collection Mivvy

Prague Castle from Wooden Fortress to World's Largest Castle Complex

Prague Castle developed from a wooden fortress built in the ninth century into world's largest castle complex. The castle grounds include three churches, a palace, a monastery and numerous gardens. Construction of St Vitus Cathedral began in the fourteenth century, when the castle was the seat of the Holy Roman Empire. 

In the eighteenth century, Empress Maria Theresa enclosed the castle complex in a number of neo-classical building creating hundreds of rooms and floor space. This is the 'wall', you see when looking at Prague Castle from the Old Town or Charles Bridge. 

In the twentieth century, the Nazis and later the Communists were in command of the castle. After the velvet revolution in 1989, Prague Castle became the Seat of Government.

Prague Castle Changing of the Guards
Prague Castle Changing of the Guards
personal collection Mivvy
Prague Castle Guards
Prague Castle Guards
personal collection Mivvy

Changing of the Guards at Prague Castle

Tourists gather in front of the castle. They snap photos of the castle guards standing at attention and wait for the ceremony of the Changing of the Guards.

Every hour, on the hour this spectacle takes place. At noon, it is spiced up a bit and includes a flag ceremony and a brass band. When Vaclav Havel, the first president of the Czech Republic, came into office 1990, he spruced up the changing of the Guards ceremony. He replaced the drab uniforms of the Communist days by blue uniforms with gold braid epaulettes and commissioned a pop star to compose the music. The new uniforms were introduced in 1990.

If the Changing of the Guards at Prague Castle reminds you of the ceremony of Buckingham Palace in London, you are right. The Prague spectacle was modeled after the British one.

The Best View of Prague Castle

High on a hilltop, Prague Castle dominates the city's skyline. The most striking building is St Vitus cathedral whose spires soar high into the sky. You get the best view of the castle from Charles Bridge, Smetanovo Embankment, Jiraskuv Bridge and Letna Hill. 

My favourite way up to Prague Castle is via Nerudova Street. This street will take you right up to the entrance gate. I like to go down via the Castle Steps, Zámecké schody, pass through the Rampart Gardens, into Zámecká street and end in Malostranské náměstí. Both walks reward you with the most beautiful vistas of Prague.

Prague Castle Tour, Castle Steps
Prague Castle Tour, Castle Steps
personal collection Mivvy
Prague Castle Tour View of St Vitus Cathedral
Prague Castle Tour View of St Vitus C...
personal collection Mivvy

Prague Castle at a Glance

Enter Prague Castle through the main gate flanked by two battling Titans.  

1. Picture Gallery of Prague Castle holds works of art of the imperial collection and comprises mainly Renaissance and Baroque paintings. Highlights are: Titian – The Toilet of a Young lady and Rubens – The Assembly of the Olympic Gods. 

2. Powder Tower was in the sixteenth century the workshop of a gunsmith and bell founder who made the large bell for St Vitus Cathedral. In the seventeenth century, the tower was a storage place for gunpowder. It is now a museum with exhibits relating to bell foundery and alchemy. 

3. Golden Lane is a row of picturesque cottages built for the castle's guards and gunners. Today it is crammed with souvenir shops, very popular and always crowded. 

4. Lobkowicz Palace houses the historical collection of the National Museum. The collection contains copies of the Bohemian Crown Jewels and also documents, paintings, jewellery and weapons. 

5. St Georges Convent is home to Renaissance and Baroque works of art. The star exhibit is the bust of a talking apostle, because it shows strong movement and is very realistic. 

6. St Vitus Cathedral is the centre piece of Prague Castle. Construction started in the fourteenth century and was completed in the twentieth century. The cathedral is the last resting place of the 'good king' Wenceslas. It houses the Crown jewels, displayed on rare occasions only. The cathedrals' star features are the rose window, flying buttresses, Alphons Mucha's art nouveau window and the tomb of John of Nepomuk.

Alphons Mucha Arrt Nouveau Window in St Vitus
Alphons Mucha Arrt Nouveau Window in ...
personal collection Mivvy
Ever Crowded Entrance Gates to Prague Castle
Ever Crowded Entrance Gates to Prague...
peronal collection Mivvy

Prague Castle Tour Tickets

Prague Castle is the city's main tourist attraction. Every year one million visitors walk to the hill-top castle. Get your tour tickets at the Castle Information Centers located in the second and third courtyards, or in the Chapel of the Holy Cross in the second courtyard or at the ticket counter of the Old Royal Palace or The Story of Prague Exhibition. You simply cannot go wrong. The only problem may be the long queues, especially in July and August. 

 

Two Types of Castle Tickets 

There are two types of tickets: the Long Tour and the Short Tour of Prague Castle. Both tickets are valid on the day of purchase and the following day. 

The ticket for the Long Tour comprises the Old Royal Palace, the permanent exhibition of The Story of Prague Castle, St. George's Basilica, Convent of St. George, Dalibor Tower, Prague Castle Picture Gallery and the Powder Tower. 

The short tour includes the Old Royal Palace, the permanent exhibition The Story of Prague, St George’s Basilica and Dalibor Tower.

 

Prague Castle Opening Hours and Ticket prices

Buildings for which entry tickets are needed are open daily from 9 am to 6 pm

 

Prague Castle Grounds are open daily

  • 1 April – 31 October: 5 am – midnight
  • 1 November – 31 March: 6 am – 11 pm

 

Castle gardens and Stag Moat are open daily

  • April and October 10 am – 6 pm
  • May and September 10 am – 7 pm
  • June and July 10 am – 9 pm
  • August 10 am – 8 pm

 

Prague Castle Ticket Prices

  • Long Tour, CZK 350 (US $19, €14)
  • Short Tour, CZK 250 (US $14, €10)

Wizzley

Updated: on 03/04/2012, mivvy
 
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Marko on 04/06/2012

Yes, Prague is one of those old European cities with amazing cultural heritage and the soul. I believe I will visit it again.

barbarab on 09/06/2011

I love this castle! I like it a lot more than the dance house Mivvy, is that OK?

Jimmie on 07/28/2011

Sigh... maybe one day I'll get to Europe. It is certainly a dream.

sheilamarie on 07/27/2011

I would love to see Prague. History comes alive when you walk through the old castles and monasteries of Europe.

ohcaroline on 07/27/2011

This looks like a great place to tour. I would enjoy the changing of the guard too.

mivvy on 07/26/2011

The historic centre of Prague has been on UNESCO world Heritage List since 1992, including Charles Bridge and St Vitus Cathedral. Tatra Mountains, I haven't been there yet, would love to go there.

Michey on 07/26/2011

I was born and spend my 1/2 life in Europe so I had a great vacation in Tatra Maintains, and I visited for 2 days Prague. It is a fascinating town, I love the old part of the town, and I visited St Vitus Cathedral which I think is a historic Monument by UNESCO and in the first 10 European Cathedrals list.
Great post, and priceless memories for me.
Thanks

mivvy on 07/26/2011

Hi Terri, be sure to include Prague in your travels one day. If you like art nouveau architecture, winding streets, an astronomical clock and beer, Prague is the city to visit.

TerriRexson on 07/26/2011

I've visited a lot of European cities, but never made it to Prague. I will one day though. Thanks for the virtual tour.



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