Travel to Prague

Day 3 Hradcany (Prague castle)

Prague


 

We crossed the river and take the tram number 22 to climb to the castle. Prague Castle (Hradcany) is, despite the series of fires and invasions, one of the most striking, sumptuous and famous relics of great historical, cultural and social capital of the Czech Republic. Founded in the ninth century, was the residence of the kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, presidents of Czechoslovakia and Czech presidents. It contains the Jewels in the crown of Bohemia. With 570 meters long and 130 meters of average width, is considered the largest medieval fortress in the world.

Prague - Hradcanske Namesti square
Prague - Hradcanske Namesti square

We started the visit of the castle by the Hradcanske Namestí square. The courtyards that occur throughout the castle date from 1753 and 1775, when the area was rebuilt in the late baroque and neoclassic style. In the first gate we can see copies of the sculptures of Ferdinand Platzer, Battle of the Titans, a pair of guards of the castle (which we can see making the change of guard). After crossing this gate we are in the first courtyard in which stands the Gate Matias (1614), which gives access to the second square. Here stands the Chapel of the Holy Cross, built in 1763, and the fountain of Kohl. A dark tunnel takes us to the door of St. Vitus.

Prague - Mathias gate
Prague - Mathias gate

St. Vitus Cathedral is a temple dedicated to Catholic cult. It is the greatest display of Gothic architecture in the city. Since 1989, dedicated to St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert. Has been the scene of the coronation of the kings of Bohemia. The west facade of the Gothic style, was the first to be finished. It is decorated with statues of fourteen saints, the King Carlos IV and one of its architects. The bronze gates were built in 1927. There are a total of three doors: in the central door is represented the construction of the cathedral, on the right the life of St. Adalbert and on the left, since 1929 is the main facade, the life of St. Wenceslas.

Prague - Cathedral of St. Vitus
Prague - Cathedral of St. Vitus

On the south facade stands the Golden Gate which named is given because the red and gold background of their Venetian mosaics, a work of Niccoletto Semitecolo, and which represents the Last Judgement. The main tower, located on this facade, was built by Peter Parler. It has 99 m. High and is crowned by a Renaissance dome built by Pacassi in 1770. In the Royal Pantheon are the remains of Charles IV of Bohemia, his sons and his wife, also the King Wenceslas IV, Ladislaus the Posthumous, Josep of Podebrady, Rudolf II and Maria Amelia, daughter of Empress Maria Theresa of Habsburgs.

Prague - Cathedral of St. Vitus
Prague - Cathedral of St. Vitus

St. Wenceslas Chapel is one of the most important rooms of the cathedral. It is Gothic and was built between 1362 and 1367, when it was consecrated in the presence of Charles IV of Bohemia. The wall paintings date from 1509. Under the altar is the tomb of the saint (made of gold and precious stones). The Crown Jewels symbolize the sovereignty of the kings of Bohemia and the country´s royal past. The oldest is the Crown of St. Wenceslas, made for the coronation of Charles IV and Blanche de Valois as king of Bohemia in 1347. The crown is made with gold and decorated with precious stones. The Coronation Cross was brought from Karlstein Castle. It's also with gold and precious stones and also contains fragments of the Crown of Thorns of Jesus Christ. It also highlights the sword of St. Wenceslas, documented for the first time in 1333 and and the royal scepter used in coronations of the kings of the House of Habsburg from 1526.

Prague - Basilica of St. George
Prague - Basilica of St. George

The Royal Palace is located in the southeastern part of the third courtyard of the castle, next to the cathedral of St. Vitus. It consists of three superimposed levels that correspond to different times of reconstruction. It was created in the ninth century as a primitive wooden palace, in the twelfth century but was rebuilt to be residence of Bohemian kings as Romanesque-style stone palace from wich are still preserved some remains in the ground. In the fourteenth century Charles IV built a new level in Gothic style. In the fifteenth century was built the Vladislav Hall, the largest room hall of medieval Prague, 62 meters long, 16 meters wide and 13 meters high, with a late Gothic style with intertwined ribbed that intended to achieve an vegetal effect. The entrance was by the stairs of the Knights.

Prague - Golden Lane
Prague - Golden Lane

In the third courtyard of the castle, behind the St. Vitus Cathedral, we find the monastery and the Basilica of St. George. It was built by order of Prince Vratislav I in 920. Today it is the oldest religious building of the castle (formerly it was the roundabout in St. Vitus). In the twelfth century was reconstructed and the baroque facade is from the XVII century. On its interior highlights the chapels of St. John of Nepomuk and St. Ludmila. At architectural level stand the stairs around the altar. As in many other churches in Prague in this place are played classical music concerts. You can take photos inside as long as they pay a fee.

Prague - Castle
Prague - Castle

The Golden lane (Zlatá ulička) and the Alchemy is a short and narrow street where they met in 1494 several alchemists in search of the formula for creating gold, and whose experiments were collected in the Powder Tower (Mihulka). At number 22 of this street lived between 1916 and 1917 Franz Kafka. On the side of the street turn to the wall are 24 small houses painted with bright colors. Created for the guards of the castle in the sixteenth century were later occupied by the alchemists. Currently is being used as shops. After visiting this street, stroll through the gardens below the castle, which have a couple of viewpoints over the city and finally returned to the center down by the stairs of the castle or Staré Zámecké Schody.


 

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