Overview of Your Tour
Prague Castle; Seat of Kings, Emperors, and Regents
Over the 1,100 years that Prague Castle has presided over Prague from atop Hradčany Hill, it has been the seat of Bohemian kings, holy Roman emperors, and the Hapsburgs’ regents (including the regents famously thrown out of the castle windows by enraged Hussites). The largest castle complex in the world, it has imparted prestige not only on the presidents of the first Czechoslovak Republic but also, more ominously, on the Nazi Reichsprotektors and to the Communist Party chairmen of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. During the Velvet Revolution of 1989, demonstrators filled Prague’s streets with thechant “Havel na Hrad!” (“Vaclav Havel to the Castle!”), a call to reclaim the traditional home of Czech leadership for a new era of democratic governance.
To start your 3-hour Prague Castle walking tour, meet your guide in central Prague for the enjoyable tram ride up to the top of Hradčany Hill – where this imposing castle’s amazing story began.
A Thousand Years of Architectural Change
Constructed and reconstructed in every architectural style, Prague Castle incorporates Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Rococo, Renaissance, and Neoclassical monuments and architecture. Over the centuries, the mighty castle walls have been bombarded by artillery, plundered by marauding armies, and left to deteriorate by indifferent Austrian Emperors.
During phases of feverish reconstruction, the castle’s older structures were renovated according to newer architectural sensibilities, resulting in anachronistic combinations such as the 12th-century St. George Basilica – whose original Romanesque towers loom over an elaborate 17th-century Baroque façade.
At the height of its prominence in the 16th-century, Prague Castle was transformed into a cultural center by the eccentric Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, who amassed the largest collection of fine art in Europe and attracted the leading scientists of the day, Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, to his court (along with assorted frauds and alchemists).
St. Vitus Cathedral, Saint Wenceslas Chapel, and Vladislav Hall; highlights of your tour
Highlights of this Prague Castle walking tour include a detailed visit to the glorious St. Vitus Cathedral –founded by Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, and full of treasures including its be-gemmed Saint Wenceslas Chapel and the Art Nouveau window by Alphonse Mucha.
Children will enjoy our stroll through the Golden Lane, where a number of quaint shops served the castle in eras past. We also take in the Vladislav Hall, which was built to host indoor jousting tournaments. Since 1995, parts of the castle have been brilliantly illuminated by lighting paid for by The Rolling Stones as a gift to their friend and former President of Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel!