© Libor Sváček, archiv CzechTourism

From Czech Athens to Karlštejn Castle

Kutná Hora - Křivoklát - Karlštejn

Length 197 km Duration 2 Days

Day 1

Kutná Hora is approximately eighty kilometres from Prague if you take the D11 motorway. Alternatively, you can use the direct train service from Prague Main Railway Station. Either way it takes one hour. The itinerary is designed for walking, or in combination with travelling on public transport or by car.

Kutná Hora is the perfect place to begin the journey exploring the legacy of Charles IV in Central Bohemia. Thanks to the bountiful local silver mines, it became the most cared-for town in the Holy Roman Empire during the reign of Charles IV, alongside Prague. Kutná Hora is one of the most important urban conservation areas in the Czech Republic and it is not by chance that it is registered on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Start the tour directly in the historic centre, which will impress you with its unique diversity of architectural styles and buildings from various historical periods. Dominating the centre and the entire town is the late Gothic Church of St. Barbara, founded in 1388, ten years after Charles' death. However, it was Charles IV who was responsible for the town’s expansion which made this monumental construction possible.

The next stop will be the Czech Museum of Silver, located in a house called Hrádek. Part of the exposition is the St. George Mine Shaft, an interesting technical remnant of medieval mining in this country. After exploring the historical monuments, why not take a rest and have a meal. A favourite dish here is roast duck with cabbage and dumplings washed down with a glass of good beer. After lunch, you can stop off at the Gallery of Central Bohemia to see both historical and contemporary art. The visit takes at least one hour.

In the afternoon, move on to the Sedlec quarter, about two kilometres from the town centre. You can admire the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist, originally a Gothic structure, rebuilt by the architect Jan Blazej Santini Aichel in his famous Baroque Gothic style at the beginning of the 18th century. Beneath the Church of All Saints you can enjoy a somewhat scary, but extremely powerful experience: a visit to its ossuary with unique decorations made of human bones, created by woodcarver Frantisek Rinta of Česká Skalice.

Day 2

The round trip from Prague to Karlštejn and Křivoklát and back is about 129 kilometres and takes a total of two and a half hours. The itinerary assumes travelling by car. The trip is also offered by selected travel agencies. You can easily get to Karlštejn by train from the Prague Main Railway Station or Smíchov Station. The journey takes about 35 minutes.

The second day of the journey exploring the legacy of Charles IV in Central Bohemia starts at Křivoklát Castle. In the surrounding deep forests, the Emperor spent many days hunting, after which he would take a rest from his everyday duties at the castle. The tour around the castle will amaze you with a multitude of exhibits and architectural monuments, including the Royal Hall and the Knights’ Hall with an exhibition of Gothic art, the beautifully decorated chapel, the impressive library packed with 52 thousand volumes, and for those who are interested in the more ghoulish aspects of history, the famous prison and torture chamber full of grisly instruments once used for inflicting pain. Křivoklát also offers a unique opportunity of accommodation directly in the premises of the Castle, where you can dream of wild royal hunts, opulent banquets and jousting tournaments, taking place many centuries ago right next to your room.

The second stop will be Karlštejn Castle, originally built for the Emperor's private purposes. Stroll through the rooms, where Charles IV lived and worked, received honoured visitors, and enjoy moments of serenity in the chapels where he once prayed. Later the castle was expanded and served as the home of the imperial crown jewels and sacral relics. You can also take a carriage ride up to the castle. On the access road to the castle you will find a number of cafés, ice cream parlours and restaurants, where you can recharge your batteries before ascending to the castle itself, or simply refresh yourself after two days of walking around historical monuments founded by Charles IV.

Golf lovers can play a round at the Karlštejn Golf Resort, where they can enjoy a beautiful view of the castle and the surrounding hills, covered with dense forests.

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