Prague Castle is located in Prague, capital and largest city of the Czech Republic, and is located on Hradcany Hill, where the city was founded, which dominates the capital on the left bank of Vltava.
Prague Castle is one of the most important buildings in the city. It was founded in the 9th century and currently serves as the presidential residence, formerly inhabited by the kings of Bohemia. Inside it is St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle Royal Palace, Dalibor Tower, St. George Convent, and the Golden Lane.
Prague Castle occupies an area of over 72,500 square meters. Because of this, it is considered, according to the Guinness World Records Book, the largest castle in the world.
Formerly, it was a fortification that dominated the region, from where it was allowed to control all the boats that passed by the river. It was a residence of several kings in antiquity and after, becoming official residence of some Presidents of Republic from 1918.
In 850 AD it was built on Hrad’s Hill, near the Vltava River housing for the Premyslid Family (Premyslidas).
At the outset, the residence was built a simple structure of wood, clay and stones surrounded by a moat and with time, it was enlarged, as well as the inhabitants around it. The history of the Premyslid Family is fully tied to that of the castle. This family was the one who founded the royal dynasty that for centuries would be ahead of the events related to the history of the castle and the city of Prague itself. A princess of the Cech tribe, on Mount Vysehrad. The future Princess Libuse, the young woman married the farmer and woodcutter Premysl, and founded the dynasty of the Premyslidas.
Hradcany Castle and its enclosure, located on the other side of the Moldava, were built by the first ruler Premyslida.
In 900 AD, Duke Brivoj, in the 9th century Václav, his grandson and Duke of Bohemia, raised a church dedicated to S. Vito inside the enclosure before being assassinated by his own brother in the year 929. Canonized later with the name of St. Venceslao, this ruler became the country’s patron.
A city formed at the foot of the hill where the castle of Prague was located had become a political center. The castle of the influential Premyslid Family was the nucleus of the region. As rulers and religious were always together, the Prague bishopric was also located near the grounds of the castle, as was the first Bohemian convent – name of the territory where the Czech Republic was at the time.
In 932 AD, one of the most important names in the history of the castle is that of Prince Boleslav II. Climbing the throne inherited a powerful empire from central Europe, which included Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Poland, and Slovakia. These same territories, of course, continue to exist, but several have had their names changed over the centuries, owing to numerous wars and political treatises. With the wedding of the Bohemian Princess Doubravka Boleslav and the Polish Prince Mieszko I, the Premyslidas House became even stronger, which led to its dominance to have great power, and turned Prague into one of the most influential cities in Europe. At this time, the castle already covered an area of six hectares, totally surrounded by walls and garrisoned by towers at regular intervals.
In 1135 AD, Prince Sobeslav undertook a major reconstruction, converting it into a Romanesque fortress whose walls and watchtowers protected St. Vitus Cathedral, Basilica, St. George Convent, Bishop’s residence and Royal Palace.
In 1157 AD, a flood destroyed the wooden bridge that crossed the Vltava and was replaced by a stone, which was named after Judith in honor of the wife of Duke Vladislav, the first king of Bohemia. At that time the district on the other side of the river, called the Old Town Staré Mestoou, had become an important international shopping center that made Prague the main city of Bohemia with a large village with a prominent Jewish community that was confined after the walls of a ghetto, in the present-day Josefov neighborhood.
One of the most important parts of the castle, built in the 11th century, was St. Vitus Cathedral, whose foundation stone was laid in 1344, by King Charles IV, it also ensured the cohesion of the expansion of the city, a royal road linking the Castle to Staré Mesto, to the Old City, which had long emerged from the riverside plain, and the Vyšehrad, the mother of the nation, a deep homage and respect of the emperor for his mother, buried there, the hill made obligatory passage for the southern travelers. generosity of dimensions of the Gothic bridge of Peter Parlér, the builder, re-joining the two banks of the Vltava after the turbulent waters of the current destroyed and dragged the old Romanesque bridge of the twelfth century.
The son of Charles IV, Wenceslas IV, continued the work of his father, and increased and further strengthened the castle. At this time the castle could already be considered almost as a city within Prague, composed by the sectors of the royal quarters, religious areas and military groups. In addition, within its walls worked diverse craftsmen and merchants.
In 1230 BC, the whole of the city was surrounded by fortifications, begun around 1230, which stretched along what today are the streets of Národní, Na prikov (of the Fosso) and Revolucní
In 1257 BC, a third district was born in the city under the orders of King Ottokar II, the “new city”, built at the foot of Prague Castle and now known as Malá Strana or Little Part. This part grew around the Malostranské námestí, a square formed on the last terraplanes of the castle, and it was installed in several markets, shops and houses of seamen, brewers, lawyers, doctors and wealthy bourgeois. It was also built a town hall near the first Church of St. Nicholas (1283), and the St. Augustine Monastery of St. Thomas on Letenská Street. In the XIV century the convent and the Carmelite Church of Santa Maria Magdalena, in the present Karmelitská, rose in this zone.
In 1483 AD, during the Jagellons dynasty, other works are made, such as the construction of the famous Powder Tower, White Tower and Daliborka Tower. Even so, they do not prevent the arrival of black years. The second half of the fifteenth century sees the arrival of the so-called Hussite Wars, which bring misfortune and destruction. The castle suffers several damages during the fighting. As a consequence, it remains unoccupied for decades, and much of its buildings and walls are destroyed.
Only with the reign of Vladislav Jagellonský, the castle of Prague returns to know better days. The sovereign promotes major renovations and additions to the original construction. It is from this period the construction of the famous Hall Vladislav, room measuring 62 x 16 meters, which becomes the most important piece of the castle. Also under the command of the Architect Benedikt Ried is a magnificent dome under the hall, which would be the first of Bohemia’s territory with Renaissance architectural elements. In the castle of Prague were crowned all the kings of the country, being that the ceremony took place in the Cathedral of S. Vito. According to a publication of 1723, a banquet with 564 pheasants, 708 partridges, 800 chickens, 560 pigeons, 46 sheep, 40 sheep, 50 geese, 120 turkeys, 130 ducks, 70 chickens and 108 chickens were prepared for the coronation of Charles VI. hares
Years later, already under the Habsburg domain of Austria, the castle enters a new period. The Empress Maria Theresa hires the Viennese Architect Niccolo Pacassi, to, from 1753, to rebuild everything. It adopts a Renaissance style, following the new Vienna fashion. In contrast, as Prague is now dominated by the Habsburg Austrian empire, the castle is emptied of its treasures and works of art that are sent to Vienna. Only in 1918, with the end of the Habsburg empire and foundation of the Czech Slovak nation, the castle of Prague again hosts the seat of government. Restoration works are resumed, with special attention to the Cathedral of S. Vito, the most important building of the whole.
Nowadays, the view of Prague castle is somewhat different from the aspect that we traditionally find in other castles. The whole complex is dominated by the immense towers of St. Vitus Cathedral. These towers also tower over all other buildings in the city.
Prague Castle, actually a small town, has several sights open to visitors. The initial nucleus of the castle is a very interesting visit, because in fact it is formed by three independent castles, superimposed. Each layer was built at a different time. Unfortunately there is not much left of the older layers, but still, what can be seen illustrates well the history and style of his time.
The Cathedral of St. Vito and Cathedral of Wenceslas is the dominant point of the whole, and consists of the representation of the Czech state itself. Its construction took almost 600 years. In it, until 1836, the kings of the country were crowned. Also in the cathedral, kings, princes, emperors and (future) saints were cremated. Your remains to this day are here. Also in the cathedral are kept the jewels of the crown. Visit also its chapel, which has the walls covered by 1300 precious stones.
Leaving the cathedral and walking in the opposite direction to the entrance gate, you come to Zlata Ulicka, another point of the castle that deserves to be visited. In this street were located the houses of the craftsmen and military who guarded the castle. It was built in the sixteenth century, and to this day its appearance is exactly the same as that era. In the set of buildings that form the castle is also located the office of the president of the Czech Republic, in a place not open to public visitation. Other interesting points of the castle are St. George’s Basilica, St. George’s Monastery, Castle Gallery, Daliborka Tower, Powder Tower, Lobkovic Palace and the palace gardens.
The best way to get to the castle is by taking one of the trams that connect the center to the suburban neighborhoods, and pass at the foot of the mountain where the castle is situated. From this point, a short, steep walk takes tourists to the entrance gate.