If you only have to see one thing, then it should be the castle! It is the largest residence of a head of state.
Considered by the Guinness Book as the largest residence of a head of state, the Castle measures 1 km from east to west and about 400 m from north to south. Each era has contributed to the construction of this prestigious complex. All architectural styles coexist on this slate hill, creating an unforgettable panorama. Symbol of the evolution of a people, the Castle was built in 870, when the first Bohemian prince, Bočivoj, built a fortified town around a wooden structure. It evolved with the fires, constructions and alterations carried out by its various occupants, but its current appearance mainly reflects the work undertaken under Empress Maria Theresa from 1740 to 1780.
First court. It is the main entrance to the Castle, the main courtyard or ceremonies. Every day at noon, summer and winter, you will attend the "big" shift of the guard, a well-ordered ballet of about twenty minutes that concerns the 40 or so guards assigned to guard the castle. The monumental gate separating the first courtyard from the square is surmounted by giants sculpted by I. Platzer. They symbolize the battle of the Titans. On the left of the main courtyard, you can access the "gardens on the bastion" (zahrada na bašté) designed by Jože Plečnik in the 1930s. The Mathias Gate is the oldest of the remains of the Castle. It stood on the ramparts. As you walk through the door, note on the left the large staircase of the room Plečnik : it is the major work of this architect to whom the development of part of the Castle and gardens was entrusted between 1920 and 1930. It leads to the famous Spanish hall and the Rodolphe Gallery. These rooms, all of which are stucco and gilded, are sometimes open to the public (concerts, for example). Do not miss this opportunity for an ephemeral intrusion into the world of the Habsburgs...
Second courtyard. This courtyard was built on the site of an old suburb in the 16th century, then transformed in 1775 by N. Pacassi during the reign of Maria Theresa. In the centre of the courtyard, a beautiful baroque fountain from 1686 and a Renaissance well. This courtyard serves the gallery of the Castle (open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm) which today houses works from Tintoretto, Titian, Rubens, etc. In the southeast corner, the Holy Cross Chapel contains the treasure of Saint-Guy Cathedral: a unique collection of liturgical objects collected since the 10th century.
Third court. Dominated by the side of Saint-Guy Cathedral, this courtyard is built on the remains of Romanesque and Gothic houses. The work undertaken in 1929 revealed part of the cathedral. The monolith, which stands more than 16 m high, is the work of Plečnik, dedicated to the memory of the victims of the First World War. The equestrian statue represents Saint George defeating the dragon. It dates back to 1373. On the tower, the two superimposed clocks indicate one the hours, the other the minutes. A visit to the Gothic rooms of the old royal palace once inhabited by the Bohemian kings is a must. Go directly to the Vladislav room, 62 m long; it is here that the banquets organized for the coronations as well as the knights' tournaments took place. More recently, in 1948, it was the place where President Clément Gottwald was elected, and Gustav Husak was elected in 1975.
Every day 6am-22pm, 250 Kč/350 Kč depending on the chosen circuit. Free access Monday 4pm-6pm. Audioguides 350 Kč.
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