Prague Castle is one of the most visited and most important spots in the entire city; undoubtedly the jewel of the Czech capital. The Castle is an ancient symbol of Czech lands and was most likely founded around the year 880 by Prince Borivoj. The Castle itself is like a small town, and according to the Guinness Book of World Records it is the largest coherent castle complex in the world. It covers an area of 70,000 square metres and is still in use today.
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A narrow passage leads to the third courtyard of the castle, and a sudden view of the immense and awe-inspiring facade of St. Vitus Cathedral looming up just a few steps away. The cathedral can be entered through the cathedral’s western door. The spires of St. Vitus Cathedral, an elegant but domineering French Gothic structure, soar above the ramparts.
For all the UNESCO World Heritage sites peppering Prague, the city’s one defining image is the Castle. Sitting on its lofty perch high above Malá Strana, the Castle was founded in 880 by Prince Bořivoj, and is – according to the Guinness Book of World Records – the biggest in the world.
Framed by the spectacular and imposing structures of the White Tower and Dallibor Tower, Golden Lane is ticked away quietly against the walls of the castle. With a history of being home to alchemists in the 16th and 17th century, as well as those in the imperial entourage, it is now a quaint and charming little street with spectacular sights.
Hradcany were, as the third town of Prague, founded at the beginning of the 14th century by a Royal Count Berka from Dube. At that time, however, there was already the Prague Castle, formerly called Royal Castle, a historical-political and cultural dominating feature of not only Hradcany and Prague, but of the whole Bohemia, influencing with its significance the whole Central Europe for centuries, whose foundation dates back sometime after 880 A.D.
As the oldest preserved religious building in Prague, St. George’s Basilica is obviously an extremely important place for many different reasons. The church dates back to 920, when it was founded by Duke Vratislaus I of Bohemia and the remains of Bohemia’s first martyr – Duchess Ludmilla – were placed here in 925.
Even if you have never heard about Franz Kafka and have never read one of his books (novels The Trial, America and The Castle have been translated into several languages), you will surely notice his presence while visiting Prague. T-shirts, posters and mugs carrying the writer’s image are available at every souvenir shop across Prague.
There is a large choice of accommodation in Prague, from intimate, romantic hotels based in historical town houses, to international luxurious chain hotels, such as the Ibis, Hilton and Crown Plaza. There are also B&B’s and budget hostels, as well as smaller boutique hotels. Furthermore, a new trend has emerged of renting a Prague apartment for a short term period, which is particularly popular among bigger groups who prefer more self catering and privacy.
This pretty baroque monaster has been a place of pilgrimage since 1626, when it was endowed by a Bohemian noblewoman, Kateřina of Lobkowicz. The Loreta monaster was inspired by a medieval legend. In 1278, so the story goes, the Virgin Mary’s house in Nazareth was miraculously transported by angels to Loreto in Italy and thus saved from the Infidel.
Sternberg Palace is open for the public after the reconstruction in the years 2002 and 2003. The palace houses permanent exposition of old European Baroque Art (Collection of Old Masters), for instance paintings by El Greco, Rembrandt (portrait Scholar in his Study 1634) and Rubens.
Only a stone throw away from the Prague Castle is Petřín Hill; perfect for a summer walk away from the bustle of tourists. Part of the land is set aside for an apple and a pear orchard from which the fruit can be freely picked from the trees. Much of the stone sed in building the major sights in Prague was quarried out of Petrin, however today this is not noticeable beneath the trees and gardens.