One of the most popular buildings in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is an enormous castle that majestically overlooks this fascinating city.
In this article, you’ll discover some of the most interesting facts about Prague Castle and its history, an incredible castle in Europe that you to visit during your stay in the city.
1. The history of the castle dates back to the 9th century
If you ever get a chance to visit the wonderful city of Prague, then one of the first structures that you notice in the historical center of the city is a majestic castle.
Prague Castle overlooks the city and is situated just west of the city’s center and on the other side of the Vltava River near Charles Bridge, another iconic landmark in the area.
This bridge connects the area of the castle with the area of Old Town Square, the actual historic heart of the city.
The first building in this location, which marks the start of the construction of the castle, was a structure known as the “Church of the Virgin Mary.”
This was the first fortified structure of the castle and was built in the late 9th century by Prince Borivoj I (852-889), the first documented Duke of Bohemia. Only the foundations of this structure remain today.
2. The oldest existing building of the castle was built in 920
The first building of the castle was destroyed by a fire in the 13th century and not rebuilt. This means that the oldest surviving building that is part of the palace complex is St. George’s Basilica.
This building was constructed in the early 10th century and consecrated in 921. This makes it the oldest Romanesque-style building in Prague as well.
The building was further enlarged in the late 10th-century and the Convent of Saint George was built against it.
The Baroque façade of the structure, which gives it its distinctive appearance, was added in the late 17th century.
3. St. Vitus Cathedral was originally built in the year 930
The most imposing structure that is part of the palace complex is St. Vitus Cathedral, officially known as “The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus, and Adalbert.”
The original version of this church was founded by Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia, in 930. This structure consisted of a Romanesque rotunda, which was enlarged around 1060 to become a Romanesque basilica.
The construction of the current Gothic version of the cathedral started in the year 1344 but was never finished. It wasn’t until the 19th century that works resumed.
The largest Gothic Cathedral in the Czech Republic was eventually consecrated in the year 1929, nearly 6 centuries after construction had started.
4. The original castle became the largest ancient castle in the world
The first Romanesque palace that was part of the castle was built in the 12th century. This was followed by a serious expansion phase in the Gothic style during the reign of Charles IV in the 14th century.
The building was continuously expanded the following centuries with the last major project being conducted during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa (1717-1780) in the 18th century.
This has resulted in the palace becoming the largest ancient palace in the world, and the stats of the structure are dazzling indeed:
- Length: 570 meters (1,870 feet)
- Width: 130 meters (430 feet)
- Floor area: 70,000 square meters (750,000 square feet)
5. The castle retains its function as the seat of power until today
Ever since the Dukes and Kings of Bohemia came to power, the castle has served as a seat of power. This was followed by the Holy Roman Emperors and the presidents of the new Czechoslovak Republic in 1918.
One of the most fascinating facts about Prague Castle is that it still retains this function today as it’s the official office of the President of the Czech Republic, and has been since the establishment of the country in 1993.
More interesting facts about Prague Castle
6. Prague Castle is an enormous complex of palaces, churches, defense towers, and various other buildings and monuments.
It’s also adjoined by a large garden and houses several museums, including a collection of Mannerist and Baroque art that is part of the National Gallery of Prague.
7. The neighborhood surrounding the castle is known as “Hradčany” which literally translates to “Castle District.”
What’s fascinating is that this entire district consists of various historic buildings that are part of the castle. This kind of emphasizes the sheer size of this complex.
8. The most prominent garden that is part of the castle complex is known as the “Royal Garden of Prague Castle.” This amazing landscaped garden was established in 1534 by Emperor Ferdinand I of Habsburg.
This area was originally used as a vineyard and was transformed into a garden for the royal court and was completed at the same time as the Summer House of Queen Anne.
A modern greenhouse was added to the garden between 1999 and 2001 as well which replaced the original Renaissance-style Orangerie on this location.
9. The castle complex features a total of 5 halls, including the Vladislav Hall (1493-1502), which was the largest space in Prague at the time.
The main ceremonial hall today is known as the “Spanish Hall” and is located in the New Palace. Originally built in the early 17th century, it was modified extensively in the 19th century.
10. The castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Prague today. It welcomes on average about 1.8 million visitors who want to discover the millennium-long history of this fascinating structure.
11. One of the most famous attractions inside the castle is the “Bohemian Crown Jewels,” also known as the “Czech Crown Jewels.”
These were designed for Charles IV in 1347, which means they are the 4th-oldest crown jewels in Europe. The real jewels are stored inside St. Vitus Cathedral, so the ones on display are reproductions.
12. One of the most fascinating areas inside the castle is a street named “Golden Lane.” This little street is lined with colorful houses that were originally built to become the home of King Rudolf II’s guards in the 16th century.
The street gets its name from the goldsmiths that supposedly lived here a century later. Today, it’s one of the most picturesque areas inside the castle complex and a must-see location when you visit Prague.