Yesterday morning I hopped on Historic Tram 91 to explore the Prague Castle Complex. The weather was perfect for sight-seeing – clear with moderate temperatures in the 70s.
The tram reminded me of San Francisco and I loved it, including a chat with the fun conductor dressed in uniform complete with a great hat. The slightly “rickety” sounding tram was impeccably maintained but I wondered if we had enough steam to make it up the steep hill to the Castle. We did!
In one word, the Prague Castle Complex is overwhelming! “A history of more than 1100 years speaks for itself!”
The Castle’s huge presence and magnificent buildings have mysterious legends and folktales dating back to the 9th century. The busy complex hosts concerts, exhibitions, and a constant flux of tourists from all over the world. At any time you can hear a variety of foreign languages being spoken by visitors of every size, shape, color, and age.
Two of the Castle’s current attractions include a Marilyn Monroe exhibition in the Prague Castle Riding School and an exhibit of leading Czech photographer Jaroslave Kučera, Black-and-White (Prague 1969–2010), in the Theresian Wing of the Royal Castle.
During the time in Prague, I’ve made several trips to the Castle Complex. They were all a bit daunting, can’t spend too many hours there in one day…. After six months of continuous travel my concentration level is low (duh) and I’m definitely on historical-data overload. Without this detailed travel blog, many memories would be lost forever.
It would take days of dedicated exploration to see and understand the Castle Complex and its rich history. This is a link to Prague Castle’s website – http://www.hrad.cz/en/prague-castle/photogallery/prague-castle/15.shtml. The entrance fees and pricey tours surely generate substantial revenue.
A few of many exhibits and attractions include:
- Three Courtyards, Four Wings
- Multiple Cathedrals, Chapels
- Exhibition Halls, Pavilions
- Wall Paintings, Murals
- Stained Glass
- Bell Tower and Moat
- Fine Art Galleries
- Statues, Fountains
- Royal Gardens, Birds of Prey
- Mausoleum, Royal Crypt
- Royal Oratory
- Bohemian Crown Jewels
In the late 16tth century, Emperor Rudolph II brought Renaissance style to Prague Castle. It became a major center for art and science and a gallery for “exquisite collections”. In the 18th century, Empress Maria Theresa rebuilt the Castle buildings in Baroque style – its current appearance. Since 1918 Prague Castle is the official residence of the Czech Republic’s president.
Within the complex, stunning St. Vitus Cathedral has “overlooked the roofs of Prague and the Vltava River for eleven centuries”!
The cathedral is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in the world and “the biggest and the most important church in the Czech Republic”. St. Vitus Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Prague. Coronations of the kings of Bohemia were held there until 1836, and saints, kings, princes, and emperors are buried in the cathedral.
The masterpiece of St. Vitus Cathedral is exquisite St. Wenceslas Chapel. Created in the 14th century by Charles IV the chapel is known for its beautiful, rich decorations. The chapel honors St. Wenceslas, the patron of Czech lands.
Royalty buried in the cathedral’s marble mausoleum include Ferdinand I of Austria, his wife Anna of Bohemia and Hungary, and Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II.
A royal crypt underneath the cathedral holds the graves of Charles IV, his four wives, Wenceslas IV, Ladislas the Posthumous, George of Podebrady, Rudolf II, and the daughter of Maria Theresa of Austria!
After three hours at the complex I retreated to a favorite café along the Vltava – content to sit quietly enjoying the river and watching people passing by.