Posted by: LM | April 23, 2008

Pražský Hrad: Prague Castle

Ask me what never got old about living in Prague and I guarantee my answer will be the same every time. No matter how old you are, the little girl in you can’t help shining through when you get to see a castle every day while walking to work. The feeling was surreal the first time and it never dulled. I’d been to Europe before and seen other houses intended for royalty (ehem, there is nothing spectacular OR castle-like about Buckingham Palace), but not until I saw this castle was I sure that the castles from fairy-tales really do exist. It made the magic of Prague even more real.

If we’re being technical, the building that people refer to as the castle isn’t a castle at all, but a cathedral. It’s attached to the castle (if that definition is solely based on the living quarters of the king) though and has an undeniable castley look. St. Vitus’ Cathedral is the name of the church adjoined to the castle and it’s the most recognizable and visible building in the entire city. Like many castles in Europe, it’s built on a hill. This was done both for the purpose of making it easy to see from any part of the city, but also to make it easy to defend from invaders. The palace was first built during the 9th century, but was made into what it looks like now by Charles IV in the 14th century. Like nearly everything else Charles IV built in Prague, the castle & the cathedral were built in the popular Gothic style of architecture.

Although there hasn’t been a royal family in Prague for quite a while, the castle is still guarded by the Royal Guard. Much like the famous palace guards in London, these guards aren’t allowed to so much as blink. The changing of the guard takes place at designated times at any of the guard towers (like the one pictured above) around the palace. It’s definitely something to see. Like I said before, there’s no royal family in the Czech Republic anymore, but that doesn’t mean that the castle is uninhabited. The new head of the government, the president, lives in the castle. In the courtyard between the palace and the cathedral there is a place where crowds gather to be addressed by the president. This courtyard functions much like an outdoor oval office. The president addresses his country throughout his term from the balcony overlooking the courtyard.

St. Vitus Cathedral is one of the truly remarkable houses of worship in the world. Many famous Czechs are buried in the crypt at St. Vitus such as Charles IV and his four wives as well as many other Bohemian kings. There are many things to see once inside the cathedral. My favorite part was the Rose window on the western part of the church. It’s a huge and beautiful stain-glass window which rivals the one in Notre Dame in Paris for its stunning beauty. There are also chapels off in the side halls of the cathedral bearing names such as “Wenceslas Chapel” and so on. The best part of the cathedral that I would encourage all visitors to Prague to see, though, is the view from the tower of St. Vitus. You’ll climb most steps than you can count and will probably want to kill me for recommending it before you’re half way there, but the view you’ll take in from the top is one that can’t be beat. I promise that you’ll forgive me once you see it. And, eventually, your thighs will too.

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Responses

  1. Hello Lynsey,
    Mine way to work goes around the Prague Castle too, an I know exactly what you mean when you say the view of the Castle never wears off. There are always different clouds, different light and one is always in different mood, but the beauty of the majestic castle surrounded by ancient buildings gives always internal peace for those who raise their eyes to glance at it for a second. I travel a lot, but to come back home for me is my old flat, and also the sight you talk about.

  2. the view of the castle is in true sense very attractive and fascinating. it reminds us the true glory of past

  3. […] Day Two: Prague Castle […]


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