The Jewel of the Czech Lands

YES, it’s huge and casts a majestic glow, most especially at night, and it can turn all heads towards its direction. It is the “Jewel of the Czech Lands” — the Prague Castle. Or, is it called such because it houses the Bohemian Crown Jewels?

The Prague Castle at the Hradcany District is said to be the “Jewel of the Czech Lands”
A view of the castle  from the Charles Bridge by day

If it’s not time to take out the republic’s “precious” for viewing (usually on a milestone event like the national foundation day or when a new president is elected), don’t fret. The Prague Castle is the jewel itself and the Bohemian Crown Jewels is the plus. After the visit, you have bragging rights on having seen the largest ancient castle in the world (as listed in the Guiness Book of Records), and perhaps add the changing of the (good-looking) guards?

Guardians of the palace.
One Junjun among several Junjuns. They change every hour.

Interesting trivia: The Bohemian Crown is cursed! Old legends say a usurper who places the crown on his head is doomed to die within a year. It took a victim during the Nazi occupation of Prague.
The Bohemian Crown Jewels is stored in a secret room in the Prague Castle.

Getting up the hill to the castle grounds, in the district of Hradcany (aka the Castle District which consists mainly of noble historic palaces), is best done on foot. Not only is the walk on the upward-sloping cobblestone paths very manageable, it can be sweet and scenic, with delightful sights and surprises popping up along the way (which makes you slow down your pace and forget about the time), and rewarding, for the view of the city on higher ground is breathtaking.

Seen on the way up to the Prague Castle. If NYC has MoMA, Prague has a MuMO. & it’s nothing spectral.
Beautitful music from this man.
A breathtaking reward at the end of the upward trek.

The elevated position of this once independent borough offers a breathtaking view (not because you’re short of breath from the hike) of the other three former boroughs that constituted Prague in the past — the Mala Strana (Lesser Quarter), Stare Mesto (Old Town) and the NoveMesto (New Town). All four have been integrated into one city.

The sight on the high ground where the Prague Castle is—a panoramic view of the city.
The Prague Castle is in the district of Hradcany aka the Castle District which consists mainly of noble historic palaces.
A statue of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the founding father of an independent Czechoslovakia

Spread across almost 70,000 square meters of land, the 880-founded castle has been the seat of power for Bohemian kings, Holy Roman Emperors, and Czechoslovakian presidents. After Czechoslovakia was divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, it became the seat and official residence of the Head of State of the new Czech Republic.

The 880-founded castle has been the seat of power for Bohemian kings, Holy Roman Emperors, and Czechoslovakian presidents

The castle gate. The changing of the guards every hour from 7AM-6PM is a show in itself
Battling Titans at the gates.

A castle’s interior courtyard

Ingenious decorative piece to seal a well.
St. George statue in the inner courtyard.


From the first walled structure of the palace, the Church of the Virgin Mary, the complex grew through the centuries with the foundation of more buildings — palaces, churches, fortifications, galleries, etc. presenting a mélange of architectural styles — by the different reigning emperors. The grandest of which is the St. Vitus Cathedral, the biggest and most important church in the republic, is built in Gothic style, and the Basilica of St. George, rebuilt in 1142 and the oldest surviving church building within Prague Castle, is in the Romanesque style.
The magnificent Gothic cathedral of St. Vitus
Gargoyles of the Gothic building

Making up the castle complex are a couple more holy places, the All Saints Church and Holy Cross Chapel; several palaces and halls- the Old and New Royal Palaces, the Belvedere or Royal Summer Palace, Lobkowicz Palace, the Column, Spanish and Rothmayer’sHalles and Rudolph’s Gallery; a fewother buildings and defense towers, which includes the Dalibor and Powder Towers, the Golden Lane, Ball Game Hall and Riding School, and the Old and New Provost Residences; several gardens; and, museums, including the National Gallery collection of Bohemian baroque and mannerism art, the Toy Museum, a picture gallery of Prague Castle and an exhibition dedicated to Czech history. Most of these areas are accessible for viewing to tourists.

The Vladislav Hall, the largest secular in Medieval Prague, is used for large public events of the Bohemian monarchy & the modern Czech state (Photo: Wikipedia)
And a stolen shot of the ‘no photo’ hall.’ Forgive me? I accidentally pressed the button. chos!

Make sure you have enough time to spend in this place and do the proverbial travel motto of “soaking everything in.” A ticket is required to access the castle’s areas. My 250Kc ticket allowed me to check out four major areas of the 10 spaces open for public viewing, which included the Old Royal Palace, Basilica of St. George, the Golden Lane, and the magnificent St. Vitus’s Cathedral.
A ticket is required to access the castle’s areas.
A 250Kc ticket will give you access to four major areas of the 10 spaces open for public viewing
One of the four areas the ticket can access is the Golden Lane, once inhabited by the castle servants, perhaps goldsmiths & the castle marksmen.
A crystal carver at work at the Golden Lane

Medieval armors & armaments are showcased at the Golden Lane.

This one is my favorite. I wonder if you can choose your own design back then.  

The room you wouldn’t want to end up in- the torture chamber
From ancient Greek toys to modern Barbie, the Toy Museum in the Old Count’s Chambers of the castle is said to be the second largest museum of this kind in the world. Pay an entrance fee to enter the main hall.
“I am your father…” Nooooo…. One of the windows at the Toy Museum.
A statue of a young man by Milos Zet near the castle’s Eastern gate. 

To touch or not to touch. Rubbing parts of a statue for good fortune is an age old tradition worldwide.

For the other six spots-the Story of Prague, Treasury of St. Vitus Cathedral and its South Tower, the Prague Castle Picture Gallery, Powder Tower and Rosenberg Palace, I will check them out on my next visit. This I know because I touched the plaque on the statue of St. John of Nepmuk, which assured my return to the city.

Another scenic route heading down from the castle to the city.
Beautiful sight.
Another surprise along the way. A local delicacy’s alluring scent will lead you to this open window by the road. 

*****

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