© Libor Sváček, archiv CzechTourism

The pride of the Gothic period


Length 4 km Duration 1 Day

No Prague tour around the sights honouring the legacy of Charles IV would be complete without stopping at Prague Castle, one of the most important representatives of Central European cultural heritage and, according to the Guinness World Records, the largest castle compound in the world. Prague Castle used to the residence of Bohemian Princes and Kings from the 9th century, and since 1918 it has been the seat of Czech Presidents. The castle is an amazing testament to the skills of ancient builders and craftsmen and a symbol of Czech statehood.

The first stop is at the monumental Cathedral of St. Vitus, Wenceslas and Adalbert, the most prominent Czech Catholic Church. Since the 10th century, it has been the seat of the Bishop of the Prague Diocese, which was promoted to an Archdiocese in 1344 – three years before Charles became Bohemian King. It was on this very occasion when the construction of the three-nave Gothic Cathedral with three spires began. The construction work was interrupted by the Hussite wars and the Cathedral was only finally completed in 1929, on the occasion of the 1000th anniversary of the death of St. Wenceslas, founder of the original church and the patron saint of the Czech Lands. He is buried in the Cathedral, along with Charles IV himself.

During your visit to the Cathedral, do not forget to climb up to the impressive, nearly 100 meter high South Tower. You will have to overcome almost three hundred steps, but the views are worth it. Its construction was started by the legendary architect Peter Parler in the second half of the 14th century. It is decorated with a clock manufactured at the workshop of Hans Bechler in 1587, when the country was ruled by Rudolf of Habsburg. The clock is unique for its two dials, the top indicating hours and the bottom quarter-hours. The 56 metre high Renaissance balcony offers a breathtaking view of Prague Castle and the City itself.

Continue to the Collegiate Chapter of All Saints, founded in 1339 by the then Margrave of Moravia Charles. Its further development was significantly affected by Charles IV’s decision in 1366, according to which the positions the chapter’s clergymen had to be occupied by professors of Prague University (current Charles University). Therefore the most significant personalities and intellectuals served as its priests throughout the centuries. Normally you will see the building only from the outside; its interiors are only open for liturgy.

Next move on to the authentic Gothic floor of the Old Royal Palace. Since 2004 there has been a unique exposition mapping the thousand years of the palace’s history. It includes mainly original items from Prague Castle collections. After seeing this rare building and the exposition, why not take a stroll through the six beautiful gardens surrounding Prague Castle, they are truly exquisite examples of landscape gardening. You can also see the historical buildings of the Jeu du Paume Hall, Royal Summer Palace and the Lion Court, Prague’s first zoo, founded by Rudolf II., which operated until 1740, and today serves as a romantic restaurant.

If you still have enough energy left for more walking, you can continue to the nearby Petřín Hill and see the Hunger Wall. Legend has it that this construction had no practical use and the enlightened Charles IV only wanted to give work to unemployed people. In actual fact, it is a sophisticated system protecting Lesser Town and Prague Castle. Unfortunately, only fragments of the wall have been preserved to the present day. The funicular from Petřín Hill will take you back to the very centre of Prague – to Lesser Town.

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