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Prague Castle over Old Town roofs with tourists

Representative of the history of Prague on a monumental scale, Prague Castle is believed to be the largest ancient castle complex on Earth per the Guinness Book of World Records. It was founded in the 880s by Prince Bořivoj of the Premyslid Dynasty (Přemyslovci) in a hodgepodge of architectural styles. Although you can see St. Vitus Cathedral peaking out from most places in Prague, the cathedral is just a part of this 750,000-square-foot site.

You’ll find the castle in the aptly named Castle District, which is actually known as Hradčany locally. The castle is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site that encompasses the entire historic center of Prague. You must see why over 1.5 million visitors trek to the castle from the main city below every year. After all, it is one of the most popular things to do in Prague.

Fast Facts:

  • Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle in the world, covers an area of 45 hectares.
  • The castle attracts over 2 million visitors annually, making it one of the most visited tourist attractions in the Czech Republic.
  • St. Vitus Cathedral, located within Prague Castle, took over 600 years to complete and houses the tombs of numerous Bohemian kings.
  • The castle complex has three courtyards: First, Second, and Third, and features multiple architectural styles, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque, spanning centuries.

History of Prague Castle

Prague Castle over Old Town roofs with tourists
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Because of its founding in the 9th century, Prague Castle is one of the oldest castles in Europe and the world. This massive Medieval castle houses a plethora of buildings and gardens within its fortified walls. The Church of the Virgin Mary is the oldest walled building in the castle area. Although the most spectacular, St. Vitus Cathedral wasn’t built until the 10th century.

Prague Castle served a lot of purposes as both the seat of the head of state and the church. It was the site of the first convent in Bohemia and housed Emporer Charles IV in the 14th century, making the castle his home and the seat for the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. Palaces within the castle compound were built, redesigned, or fixed up after various devastations through the years or wars.

The last significant rebuild of Prague Castle happened in the latter 18th century. What you see now is a fascinating combination of ancient builds and builds that followed in the centuries to come. Now, the compound houses many government offices in the Czech…

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