Our exploration of Prague continues in this third part, where we move up hill towards the Prague Castle. The history of the city begins with the Castle which was founded in the 9th Century. The buildings enclosed by the Castle walls include a palace, three churches and a monastery. Then in 1320 a town called Hradcany was founded in the a part of the Castle's outer perimeter. Since 1918 it has been the seat of the president of the Republic.
This is a multi-part travel series. Other parts include:
Part One: Old Town Square
Part Two: Jewish Quarter and the river Vltava
Part Three: Prague Castle and Gardens
Part Four: Charles Bridge and Little Quarter
Part Five: A Night in Prague
click on the images for a bigger view
End of Part Three
To be continued...
In order to reach the castle you will have to prepare yourselves for a bit of a hike up hill. Of course you can take a cab and be dropped off at the Castle, but then you will lose a lot of the charm that the various streets have to offer, through which you go in order to arrive here. Just follow the signs that begin from the west end of the Charles Bridge, and in about 10 minutes you will arrive at the outer walls of the Castle.
Roaming the Prague Castle
Much of the sights are free to visit, you can freely roam the grounds and explore the many knocks and crannies of the palace. Entrance fees exist for entering some of the churches and for a side street that has some really old houses. The views of Prague from up here are simply stunning. I have so many areal photos that it was hard for me not to include all of them in this post. On top of the hill, you can find a Starbucks that is located inside one of the old structures, and that has a great terrace from which you can also overlook the city.
South Gardens of the Prague Castle
Our journey through Prague Castle started with the South Gardens. It's a collection of various gardens that are linked together. The oldest of them is the Paradise Garden laid out in 1562. They are very well kept and worth the visit alone. Along side them you can also get stunning views of Prague.
Our guide book kept us on track the whole time. There is so much to discover in this part of the city that it really did prove very useful to us.
The weather we had on this day was great. It was a bit warm, but we didn't mind. The sky was pierced with clouds, but you could still see the blue of the sky. Hiding in some shadowy parts of the Gardens gave us some opportunity to catch a breath and take some photos.
Sights and Attractions at the Prague Castle
The Prague Castle is a big complex, and as I said before, come prepared with a map or guide, otherwise you could miss out on some of the sights. Some of the top attractions from here includes the St. Vitus Cathedral (which I will talk about later), Golden Lane that housed the Castle's guards and gunners (here you will have to pay entrance), the already seen South Gardens, but also the Royal Gardens that are located on the north side of the Castle, St. George's Basilica, which is a vaulted chapel decorated with 16th century paintings, and the Sternberg Palace for art lovers, since it houses a huge collection of artwork and paintings.
The inner part of the Castle walls is just as impressive as the beautiful exterior. Inside you will find many picturesque houses and buildings, even though the St. Vitus Cathedral with its high towers (picture below) will greet you first. In the image above you can see a duck swimming in a fountain. Jasmina caught the sight and made the photo. After that a crowd of tourists came to take some photos as well. I don't know why, but it caught our attention.
Roaming the streets here gives you so many photo opportunities, as well chances to simply stop and take in the beauty. Don't rush yourself here (we did a bit, since lunch time was around the corner).
The next image shows the Presidential building, housed in the Old Royal Palace.
St. Vitus Cathedral
Work began on the city's most distinctive landmark in 1344 on the orders of John of Luxembourg. You can enter the Cathedral for an entrance fee, but the outside is just as impressive. The so called Golden Portal is a mosaic of The Last Judgement that is directly located above the entrance gate. I recommend you enlarge the image above to get a better view of the intricacy of the design.
A walk around the St. Vitus Cathedral takes you back through a thousand years of history. Go in through the west portal to see some of the best elements of the modern, Neo-Gothic style and continue past a succession if side chapels to catch glimpses of religious artifacts and works of art from Renaissance paintings to modern statuary. Make also sure to visit the richly decorated, jewel-encrusted St. Wenceslas Chapel before you leave.
On the Way Out
After we finished roaming the inner parts of the Castle we continued out through the east gate. On our way out I snapped the next following images. It was afternoon, and the crowds of other tourists were manageable.
Eventually we exited the Castle perimeter and got another view of Prague and the Manes Bridge we had crossed in part two. It was time to get lunch and return to our apartment. In the fourth part we will visit one of the most iconic sights from Prague: the Charles Bridge and then move on to the Little Quarter district.
End of Part Three
To be continued...