Prague Castle is the most important monument and one of the most significant cultural institutions in the Czech Republic. Guinness Book of World Records says the Prague Castle is the biggest coherent castle complex on the world because it covers an area of almost 70 000 square meters. Prague Castle is registered in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as well.
It´s supposed the Prague Castle was found around 880 by the duke Bořivoj from Přemyslides family. It included a fortification with a moat because it must have been well protected. The first stone building that was built here at the end of the 9th century was St Mary´s Church. Then the duke Vratislav I built the second church dedicated to St George in about 920 and after a while, the king Wenceslas ordered to build the Rotunda of St Vitus. The appearance as we know it today the Castle got during the 10th century. When the Přemyslides started their living here in the 12th century, an important development came. The buildings were enhanced and in the end the Royal Palace was added. However, the Castle was destroyed by a storm in 1280 and when John of Luxembourg was in power, the Castle was neglected. The biggest prosperity came in the 14th century with Charles IV. As he has been educated at the court of France, he brought a glory not only to the Castle, but to Prague itself, by building a Cathedral that complemented booming city and a new Royal Palace. Wenceslas IV, his son, continued his intentions. Vladislav II Jagellonsky was the next sovereign who improved the Castle complex. He gave a command to build new fortification – Benedikt Ried was the architect – and some new buildings as well. Then the house of Hapsburg decorated it with Renaissance elements, they enlarged the buildings, added the gardens. Later Rudolf II transformed it into magnificent and dignified residence. The last reconstruction was carried out in the second half of 18th century during the reign of Maria Theresa, the Castle changed into representative site. Ferdinand V chose the Castle as his personal residence in 1848. St Vitus Cathedral was completed in 1929. 20th century, meant choosing the Castle as the residence for the President – Josip Plečnik was the one, who adapted the Castle for this purpose.[one_half last=”no”][pro_ad_display_adzone id=”4″][/one_half][one_half last=”yes”][pro_ad_display_adzone id=”3″][/one_half]You can enter the Castle from three possible directions: from the Hradčany Square, from the North Gate and from the East Gate. It also has three courtyards. The building you must visit and which abounds in glory is St Vitus Cathedral. As the Castle itself, it has a long history as well – St Wenceslas was responsible for building the first Romanesque Rotunda, but the cathedral itself was erected in 1344, when Charles IV commissioned Mathieu d´Arass, a French architect, to build a new Gothic cathedral. Then Petr Parléř continued his work. The Renaissance dome was built in the 16th century. Joseph Mocker was the next architect that took care of it in 1872 and finally, in 1929, a thousand years after St Wenceslas death, the Cathedral with today´s appearance was finished. In the well-known Chaple of St Wenceslas you can find the Crown Jewels and the relicts of St Wenceslas, the saint patron of Bohemia.
Hradčany Square, which is located in front of the first courtyard, offers you the view of huge amount of Baroque palaces as the Martinitz Palace, Tuscan Palace, Archbishop´s Palace or the National Gallery (Schwarzenberg Palace, Sternberg Palace). You can also see the Statue of St Wenceslas, Marian Plague Column, Statue of T. G. Masaryk or the sculpture Clash of the Titans.
In case you want to explore how the alchemists from Rudolph II´s period used to live, go to the Golden Lane. There you will see former alchemists little romantic and picturesque houses with beautiful colored façade.