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Everything you need to know before taking a Prague Castle Tour

Everything you need to know before taking a Prague Castle Tour

Dramatically perched atop a hill overlooking the river is one of Prague’s most famous and must-see sights – the incredible Prague Castle!

Remarkably the largest ancient castle in the world, it is a fascinating place to visit. The vast complex is home to such sights as the stunning St Vitus Cathedral, the charming Golden Lane, and some impressive palaces and museums.

Taking a Prague Castle tour is one of the best options if you want to see as much of it as possible. As there is so much to see, you’ll undoubtedly come away having learned a lot about its fascinating – and at times tumultuous – history.

To help you out, we’ve come up with everything you need to know when visiting Prague Castle!

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Prague Castle Tour Options

The Prague Castle is a huge complex and has so much to see. It is a good idea to think about what you want to see before you arrive, as you really can spend a whole day or more checking out its amazing sights. The cheapest castle tour option with a fast admission ticket click here to book

Alongside the Picture Gallery, St. Vitus Treasury, The Story of Prague Castle, and the Great South Tower – all of which you can pay to go to individually – there are three circuits of the Prague Castle to choose from, each including different features. Not all Prague Castle tours follow the same route, so let’s take a look at some of the options you have available to you.

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Circuit A Tour

With this ticket, you can see most of the castle when you visit St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Palace, and St. George’s Basilica, as well as The Story of Prague Castle, Rosenberg Palace, and the Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower. This Prague Castle tour is certainly a great option as all the main sights are included.

Circuit B Tour 

It is also a good option as you get to see St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Palace, and St. George’s Basilica, as well as the Golden Lane with Daliborka Tower. You do, however, miss out on learning about the history of the castle; the informative and interesting Story of Prague Castle isn’t included, and neither is the elegant Rosenberg Palace.

Circuit C Tour

This tour of Prague Castle is primarily aimed at people who would like to explore the wealth of artifacts and art that can be found in the castle. The only entry to the St. Vitus Treasury exhibition and the stunning paintings of the Picture Gallery is included with a circuit C tour.

As such, this Prague Castle tour is only really suitable if you’re not that fussed about seeing the interior of all the old palaces and churches. 

Prague Castle Audio Guides

To accompany you on your trip around the castle, you can rent an audio guide. Audio guides are packed full of interesting facts and stories about the beautiful buildings and architecture you pass by.

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Group of Tourist entering the Prague Castle on a guided castle tour

Guided Prague Castle Tours

Another alternative is to take a guided Prague Castle tour. Your guide will help bring the history of the castle to life before your eyes! This option only takes you to St. Vitus Cathedral and the Old Royal Palace, so you would have to see the rest of the castle by yourself.

Costing CZK 100 for an hour-long tour, they do come highly recommended and are available in many different languages, ranging from English and French to Spanish and Russian. Customized tours are also available if you ask for them in advance.

During the high tourist season, any tour should be booked well in advance so that you don’t miss out. Click here to check rates and tour options.

As you can see, there are many different Prague Castle tour options available. It’s important to choose the right one so you don’t end up disappointed and miss out on some of its most spectacular sights!

However, you can’t really go wrong as it is all worth seeing. One of the best things about the castle is that, despite its huge size, the palaces, museums, and churches are all located just a stone’s throw away from each other.

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Cheapest Prague Castle Tickets with Tours

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Map of Prague Castle - Aerial View with buildings labeled with numbers

Prague Castle Map

As already mentioned, there are lots to see and do inside and around the castle grounds. Here are all the most important rooms and buildings that you should check out while on your Prague Castle tour.

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Prague Castle List of Rooms and Historical Buildings

The numbers correspond to the above Prague Castle Map with Legend. The buildings and attractions are labeled from West to East (Left to Right of image) inside the castle (Numbers 1-13), and the numbers continue outside the castle walls (Numbers 14-17 and G-Gardens).

Changing of the Guards at the Prague Castle Matthias Gate

1. The Matthias Gate (Entrance 1) – One of the grandest entrances into Prague Castle is located on the far west end and is named Matthias Gate. This is also a great place to catch the changing of the guard ceremony performed several times per day.

2. The Treasury of St. Vitus Cathedral – Despite having been robbed and pillaged at various times during its history, the treasury is still home to a glittering collection of church treasures. If you like shiny things, this is the place for you! The craftsmanship of the goldsmiths is impressive, and there are lots of fascinating artifacts to check out.

3. The Picture Gallery at Prague Castle – Containing lots of fine 15th to 18th-century European paintings, Emperor Rudolf II began the collection. Over the centuries, it changed locations numerous times before settling permanently at Prague Castle.

4. Imperial Riding Stables – Once home to a fleet of horses fit for royalty, today, this building holds many of the Prague Castles’s temporary exhibits.

Inside the St. Vitus Cathedral at the Prague Castle - Impressive large Gothic Style Church in Prague

5. St. Vitus Cathedral – No Prague Castle tour is complete without a visit to the towering St. Vitus Cathedral; it really is the crown jewel of what is on offer. Dominating the complex, the vast cathedral has lovely stained glass windows, a huge spire, and loads of ornate details for you to explore. It is here that the old Kings of Bohemia were coronated.

6. The Powder Tower – The largest of the castle’s cannon towers usually hosts an interesting exhibit on the Castle Guard but is unfortunately closed until 08/19 as it undergoes renovations.

7. The Prague Tower – Also known as the Great South Tower, the Prague Tower stands 100 meters high and takes 287 steps to reach the top. It also houses the biggest bell in the country, weighing 15 tons. From the top, you’ll have great views of the castle complex and the city.

View down the long impressive hallway at the Old Royal Palace inside the Prague Castle during a tour

8. The Old Royal Palace – Home to both the beautiful Vladislav Hall and the Romanesque All Saint’s Church, the Old Royal Palace dates back to the 9th century, although the current building’s Gothic features are from the 14th century. There are lots of interesting artifacts on display, and the architecture is gorgeous to behold.

9. The Story of Prague Castle – Located in the Old Royal Palace, this permanent exhibition takes you through the history of the castle. It is worth checking out for the relics and artifacts it contains; you’ll come away knowing everything there is to know about the castle and all its old rulers.

Two stone staircases leading to the Alter of the St. Georges Basilica inside the Prague Castle

10. St. George’s Basilica – The gorgeous basilica is a mishmash of different architectural styles and is home to some lovely old tombs of kings gone by. The oldest surviving church in the castle has a lot of history and is worth checking out when on a Prague Castle tour.

11. Golden Lane – Located at one of the exits to the castle, Golden Lane is a delightful spot to stop by. Small houses, which used to be goldsmiths’ workshops, line a picturesque cobbled alley, and renowned novelist Franz Kafka used to live in one of them.

12. Daliborka Tower (E2) – An Impressive Tower located at the far eastern end of the Prague Castle Complex

13. Rosenberg Palace – A lovely Renaissance building, Rosenberg Palace, lies right next to the Golden Lane on the way out of the castle.

Outside the Prague Castle Walls

14. Former President’s House – Up until 1989, this building was the primary residence of the President of then Czechoslovakia (1938-1989).

15. Ball Game Hall – A Large Hall that has served many purposes since it was built in the second half of the 1500s. Today, it holds art exhibits, concerts, and events. 

16. Riding Stables – A More modern addition to the castle complex is the riding stables located just outside the castle walls built in the 1950s.

17 Summer Royal Palace – Built for Anna Jagiellon by her husband Ferdinand I during the mid-1500s, the space now holds fine art exhibits.

G. Gardens –  In addition to all these wonderful churches, palaces, and museums, Prague Castle is home to some lovely gardens and courtyards. They are charming places to rest if you want to get off your feet after all of the sightseeing. 

Prague Castle FAQ and Quick Answers:

Q: Where can I buy tickets for Prague Castle?

A: You can purchase tickets online here or in person at Prague Castle.

Q: How long does it take to tour Prague Castle?

A: Prague Castles tours vary in length based on the tour. On average, tours take 2-3 hours.

Q: Is Prague Castle free?

A: Yes and no. You can get into the Prague Castle courtyards & gardens for free, but to get into certain rooms, you’ll need to purchase tickets/packages.

Q: Who lives in Prague Castle?

A: The Prague Castles is the official office of the president of the Czech Republic.

Q: Can you buy Prague Castle tickets online?

A: Yes, you can purchase Prague tickets online in advance here.

Aerial View of the Prague Castle Drone Photo

The History of Prague Castle

Dating all the way back to the 9th century, Prague Castle has been through a lot. Throughout its history, it has been ruled by everyone from the Kings of Bohemia to the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire; even the Nazis controlled the castle during the Second World War.

Originally starting as a Premyslid Fort, each successive ruler added their own features to the castle. In medieval times, a moat and rampart were built, while various churches and palaces sprung up within its walls.

In the 14th century, Emperor Charles IV turned Prague Castle into the seat of the Holy Roman Empire; some of the spectacular imperial palaces we see today were built during his rule. At the same time, work began on replacing the original Basilica of St Vitus with an enormous Gothic cathedral.

After a tumultuous period where, at various times, the castle was uninhabited, fell into disrepair, was plagued by wars, and partially destroyed by a fire, the Hapsburgs took control. They built many of the elegant Renaissance buildings that can be found in the castle complex, with Rudolph II being particularly influential as he made it the center of his empire.

Following the Defenestration of Prague in 1618, another tough time took place for the castle. It was only under Empress Maria Theresa that the Prague Castle was restored and rebuilt in the second part of the 18th century. In 1848, the former Emperor, Ferdinand I, decided to take up residence in the castle.

Once the Czechoslovak Republic had been founded in 1918, Prague Castle was used as the seat of state and remains so until this day – although it is now known as Czechia following its split with Slovakia in 1993. In the intervening years, Prague Castle also served as the Nazi’s headquarters during the Second World War and as the communist government’s offices in the post-war years.

Phew! As you can see, there is an enormous amount of interesting history in this ancient site. A Prague Castle tour is the best way to get to grips with exactly what has gone on in this fascinating place.

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Prague Castle Facts

  • The gigantic Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world and is a proud Guinness World Record Holder.
  • With gothic palaces, Renaissance buildings, Romanesque basilicas, and baroque spires and decorations encompassed within its walls, Prague Castle is home to almost every major architectural style of the last 1000 years!
  • Throughout its history, Prague Castle has been home to the Kings of Bohemia, the Hapsburg Emperors, and modern-day Czech Presidents, while Adolf Hitler spent a night in the castle when the Nazis occupied the country during the second world war.

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The Castle’s Location and How to Get There

Located at Prazsky Hrad, 119 08 Praha 1, the castle is the most visible landmark in Prague and dominates a hilltop overlooking the Vltava River.

Lying across the iconic Charles Bridge from Prague Old Town, the castle is very easy to get to, and many public transport options can take you right to its door.

The nearest tram stops are those of Kralovsky Letohradek, Prazsky Hrad, and Pohorelec, while the two metro stations that lie nearby are Malostranska and Hradcanska.

Prague Castle Opening Hours - Night Photo of the Prague Castle with deep blue sky and yellow castle building and spires

Prague Castle Opening Hours

The Prague Castle is open every day of the year. However, times vary depending on the season, and some historical and religious buildings have different hours. 

Prague Castle Complex (outside buildings)

  • Year-Round: 6 am to 10 pm – Every Day

St. Vitus Cathedral

  • Summer: 9 am  – 5 pm M-Sat, 12 pm – 5 pm Sundays (April 1st to till October 31st)
  • Winter: 9 am – 4 pm M-Sat, 12 pm – 4 pm Sundays (November 1st till March 31st)

Prague Castle Gardens Hours:

  • Summer: 10 am – 6 pm (April 1st to till October 31st)
  • Winter: Closed (November 1st till March 31st)

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