Exploring Prague - Part Two!
If you haven’t already read Exploring Prague - Part One click here to read it now. This blog (Part Two) will focus on our visit to Prague Castle.
We started another day of exploring with an early morning walk from our apartment in Prague 8 into the Old Town Square and snapping more photos there of course! I think every time you visit the Old Town Square you notice something new/different as there is just so much going on it is hard to take it all in, in one visit.
This time we noticed the gorgeous Štorchův Dům building:
“The house is a new building of Friedrich Ohmann from 1896-97 in the style of Vladislav Gothic. On the facade of the house are valuable frescoes by Mikoláš Aleš. The house was damaged in May 1945 during the battle for the Old Town Square. It was restored in 1948 by J. Prskavec.”
Next we began our walk to Prague Castle. First we walked towards the Mánesův Bridge as we needed to cross the Vltava river. On the right just before the bridge is the Rudolfinum Concert Hall. The concert hall was built in 1876–1884 and designed by architects Josef Zítek and Josef Schulz.
According to the Rudolfinum Website:
“The Rudolfinum is an important architectural monument of Prague. The Neo-Renaissance building on the banks of the Vltava River was connected with music and fine arts since its opening in 1885. Today, this cultural house is the seat of the Czech Philharmonic and the Rudolfinum Gallery.”
Continuing over the Mánesův Bridge, we could see Prague Castle in the distance up on the hill.
On our right we caught a glimpse of the green domed roof of the Strakova Akademie, the rest of the building was hidden behind large trees. The Strakova Akademie is the seat of the Government of the Czech Republic and Office of the Government.
To our left we could see the famous Charles Bridge:
We passed the Monument to Fallen Soldiers WWII (Památník padlým vojákům II. světové války):
And the lovely colourful buildings behind it:
Prague Castle - Pražský Hrad
We continued walking, climbing up the old castle stairs (staré zámecké schody) and soon we were at the castle entrance. It was easy to find, just follow the crowds! Click here for a map of Prague Castle.
Prague Castle (Pražský Hrad) is one of the main attractions in Prague so of course we had to go and see it for ourselves.
“According to the Guinness Book of Records, Prague Castle is the largest continuous castle complex in the world, covering an area of almost 70,000 m² and is also included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.”
The view from the observation deck (Vyhlídka u Černé věže) located at the castle entrance was really nice.
Looking down onto the observation deck from a higher point:
Following other visitors we left the observation deck and walked towards the St. Vitus Cathedral (Katedrála Sv. Vítacathedral) though the grounds of the Castle.
We walked past the Empress Maria Theresa Entrance to Rosenberg Palace (Vstup císařovny Marie Terezie) but between the wooden cabins and fellow visitors it was difficult to get proper photographs, you can just about see it to the right in the photo below.
St. Vitus Cathedral Exterior
The closer we got to the St. Vitus Cathedral the busier it got in terms of visitors!
St. Vitus Cathedral was originally founded in 930 by Prince Wenceslas. The Cathedral in its current form dates back to 1344 and is said to be one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in Prague. As you can see from my photos, the Cathedral is beautiful and massive and you quickly realise why this is such a popular attraction in Prague. Read more about the history of the Cathedral here.
Below are some photos of the Cathedral taken from the busy Castle courtyard.
In the next few photos you can see the South Tower and Golden Gate (Zlatá Brána) of the St. Vitus Cathedral.
Taken from pragitecture, the exterior mosaic facade was:
“… commissioned by Charles IV in 1370, is covered in a priceless mosaic depicting the Last Judgement. Italian in style – and possibly in execution – it shows Christ in Majesty, sitting in judgment over the blessed (to His right) and the damned (to His left). Beneath the throne kneel six Bohemian saints (Procopius, Sigismund, Vitus, Wenceslas, Ludmila and Vojtech) and below them the earthly patrons Charles IV and his fourth wife Elizabeth of Pomerania.”
Buying Castle Tickets
After taking those photos, we purchased our Prague Castle tickets from the information centre opposite the entrance to St. Vitus Church. We chose “Prague Castle Tour B” tickets which were 250CZK (approx €10) each and included the Old Royal Palace, St. George, Golden Lane, St. Vitus Cathedral. You can read more about the different ticket types available here.
St. Vitus Cathedral Interior
According to www.hrad.cz:
“The bronze doors are decorated with reliefs with scenes from the history of the temple and from the legends of St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert.”
First impressions? Wow! - Check out the epic ceiling!
The next photos are of the rose window which is positioned above the main entrance. It was installed in 1927 and depicts various scenes from the bible.
The entire interior is really beautiful, I especially loved the giant stained glass windows.
Although it was busy inside the Cathedral we were able to make our way around pretty easily. We walked a full loop clockwise. The Cathedral has numerous side Chapels that you see properly as you walk around. There are also tombs inside the Cathedral, these include the tombs of St Wenceslas, Charles IV and St John of Nepomuk.
Wood carvings inside:
The impressive golden pulpit:
The organ (picture below) has a significant history in its own right. Read about the history of the organ here and then you can read all about the scheduled renovation of the organ (to celebrate its 700th birthday) here.
Next are some photos of the baroque silver tomb of St. John of Nepomuk:
I think (should have made a note and now I am not 100% sure) these next photos are of the walls of Wallenstein Chapel within the Cathedral:
Next we came to The Chapel Of King Wenceslas which is definitely the most impressive of all the Chapels within the Cathedral.
According to hrad.cz:
“St. Wenceslas Chapel is a cult centre of St. Vitus Cathedral. Its magnificent decoration and the different conception of its architecture emphasize its singularity as the central point of the Cathedral with the tomb of the most important Czech patron saint. The facing of the walls, consisting of precious stones, and the wall paintings of the Passion Cycle are parts of the original 14th-century decoration of the chapel. The scenes from the life of St. Wenceslas forming another decorative band are attributed to the workshop of the Master of the Litomerice Altar (the cycle dates back to 1509).”
When we had finished walking around inside the Cathedral we headed back outside where we sat on a bench in the sunshine for a little while before making our way to the Old Royal Palace.
The Old Royal Palace
It wasn’t too busy as we walked around the Old Royal Palace. According to hrad.cz:
“The original residence building, mostly wooden, was built at Prague Castle already at the turn of the 9th and 10th century. Its exact location is not documented. It was prince Soběslav in the 12th century who had a stone Romanesque palace built right next to a new fortification wall. Remains of it have been preserved in the underground till the present times.”
Vladislav Hall is in the Old Royal Palace of Prague Castle. Built between 1493-1502, Vladislav Hall has been used for many coronation festivities as well as banquets and markets. Knights on horses also entered the Hall to take part in jousting tournaments:
“The coronation ceremonies featured tournaments between knights, as evidenced by the famous Rider’s Staircase, by which the knights entered the hall on horseback.”
Taken from welcometoprague.eu:
“The Vladislav Hall, including the impressive rib vaulting, was built in the Late Gothic style by Benedikt Rejt, and in its time was the largest secular hall in Prague, measuring 62 metres long, 16 metres wide and 13 metres high.”
If you would like to read more about Vladislav Hall click here.
The Office of The Land Rolls
From the Vladislav Hall we made our way to the New Land Rolls Room (Říšská Dvorská Kancelář). I loved this room with its walls covered with coats of arms of the Bohemian nobility.
St. Georges Basilica
Next we headed back outside and it was just a short walk to St. Georges Basilica:
“St. George’s Basilica originated as the second church at Prague Castle. Only parts of the building, founded about 920 by Prince Vratislav I have been preserved. When the convent of Benedictine nuns was founded in 973, the church was enlarged and reconstructed.”
Tired from all our walking around and with the temperature hitting 30C we decided to check out the Golden Lane of Prague Castle and make our way out of the Castle via the pathway through the St Wenceslas Vineyards.
A row of modest dwellings, the Golden Lane was once home to “defenders of the Castle”, such as goldsmiths, servants and marksmen. You can enter the buildings and see evidence of past occupants within. Some of the dwellings are now operational as shops selling locally made art and craft products. It is a really cute street, like a model village and definitely worth a look.
St. Wenceslas Vineyard & Villa Richter
The view from the St. Wenceslas Vineyard and Villa Richter is gorgeous and you can follow the pathway through the vineyard back down to Prague. There are a few places to have something to eat and drink within the vineyard also.
We could have spent more time in Prague Castle as there was more to see (that would be included in a different ticket to ours, such as the Rosenberg Palace and the Story of Prague Castle) - but we were happy with what we saw and ready for a relaxing late lunch.
If we ever go to Prague Castle again, we will go early, as early as possible, to escape some of the crowds. When you are sharing your visit with so many fellow tourists it of course takes a lot longer to walk around and see everything. You also get a little fed up of dodging selfie sticks with every step you take and tour guides waving flags, umbrellas and their first born child (joke)! Also, while we were lucky to have such great weather, the heat at times was challenging. Lastly, I would definitely recommend doing as we did - bring water and snacks with you as the shops, restaurants and cafes within the Castle are expensive and crowded.
If you liked this blog why not check out Exploring Prague - Part Three now!