|Architectural style||Baroque, Mannerism|
|Location||Prague 1, Prague, Czech Republic|
|Current tenants||Petr Pavel|
|Design and construction|
|Architect(s)||Matthias of Arras, Peter Parler|
Prague Castle (Czech: Pražský hrad; [ˈpraʃskiː ˈɦrat]) is a castle complex in Prague 1 within Prague, Czech Republic, built in the 9th century. It is the official office of the President of the Czech Republic. The castle was a seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia. The Bohemian Crown Jewels are kept within a hidden room inside it.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world, occupying an area of almost 70,000 square metres (750,000 square feet), at about 570 metres (1,870 feet) in length and an average of about 130 metres (430 feet) wide. The castle is among the most visited tourist attractions in Prague, attracting over 1.8 million visitors annually.
The history of the castle began in 870 when its first walled building, the Church of the Virgin Mary, was built. The Basilica of Saint George and the Basilica of St. Vitus were founded under the reign of Vratislaus I, Duke of Bohemia and his son St. Wenceslaus in the first half of the 10th century.
The first convent in Bohemia was founded in the castle, next to the church of St. George. A Romanesque palace was erected here during the 12th century.
King Ottokar II of Bohemia improved fortifications and rebuilt the royal palace for the purposes of representation and housing. In the 14th century, under the reign of Charles IV the royal palace was rebuilt in Gothic style and the castle fortifications were strengthened. In place of the rotunda and basilica of St. Vitus, building began of a vast Gothic church, that were completed almost six centuries later.
During the Hussite Wars and the following decades, the castle was not inhabited. In 1485, King Vladislaus II Jagiellon began to rebuild the castle. The massive Vladislav Hall (built by Benedikt Rejt) was added to the Royal Palace. New defence towers were also built on the north side of the castle.
A large fire in 1541 destroyed large parts of the castle. Under the Habsburgs, some new buildings in Renaissance style were added. Ferdinand I built the Belvedere as a summer palace for his wife Anne. Rudolph II used Prague Castle as his main residence. He founded the northern wing of the palace, with the Spanish Hall, where his precious art collections were exhibited.
The Third Defenestration of Prague in 1618 took place at the castle which kick-started the Bohemian Revolt. During the subsequent wars, the castle was damaged and dilapidated. Many works from the collection of Rudolph II were looted by Swedes in 1648 during the Battle of Prague (1648) which was the final act of the Thirty Years' War.
The last major rebuilding of the castle was carried out by Empress Maria Theresa in the second half of the 18th century. Following the abdication of Ferdinand I, in 1848, and the succession of his nephew, Franz Joseph, to the throne, the former emperor, Ferdinand I, made Prague Castle his home.
In 1918, the castle became the seat of the president of the new Czechoslovak Republic, Tomáš Masaryk. The New Royal Palace and the gardens were renovated by Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik. In this period the St. Vitus Cathedral was finished on September 28, 1929. Renovations continued in 1936 under Plečnik's successor Pavel Janák.
On March 15, 1939, shortly after Nazi Germany forced Czech President Emil Hácha (who suffered a heart attack during the negotiations) to hand his nation over to the Germans, Adolf Hitler spent a night in the Prague Castle, "proudly surveying his new possession." During the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in World War II, Prague Castle became the headquarters of Reinhard Heydrich, the Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia. According to a popular rumor, he is said to have placed the Bohemian crown on his head; old legends say a usurper who places the crown on his head is doomed to die within a year. Less than a year after assuming power, on May 27, 1942, Heydrich was ambushed during Operation Anthropoid, by British-trained Slovak and Czech resistance soldiers while on his way to the Castle, and died of his wounds, which became infected, a week later. Klaus, his firstborn son, died the next year in a traffic accident, also in line with the legend.
After the liberation of Czechoslovakia and the coup in 1948, the Castle housed the offices of the communist Czechoslovak government. After Czechoslovakia split in 1993 into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the castle became the seat of the Head of State of the new Czech Republic. Similar to what Masaryk did with Plečnik, president Václav Havel commissioned Bořek Šípek to be the architect of post-communist improvements for Prague Castle, in particular of the facelift of the castle's gallery of paintings.
Architectural styles of Prague Castle
Prague Castle's architecture is a unique blend of styles from different periods, reflecting its long and complex history. The castle buildings represent many of the architectural styles of the last millennium. Prague Castle includes Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, Romanesque Basilica of St. George, a monastery and several palaces, gardens and defense towers. Most of the castle areas are open to tourists. The castle houses several museums, including the National Gallery collection of Bohemian baroque and mannerist art, exhibition dedicated to Czech history, Toy Museum and the picture gallery of Prague Castle, based on the collection of Rudolph II. The Summer Shakespeare Festival regularly takes place in the courtyard of Burgrave Palace.
The neighborhood around Prague Castle is called Hradčany.
- Katedrála svatého Víta, Václava a Vojtěcha (St. Vitus Cathedral)
- Bazilika svatého Jiří (St. George's Basilica, Prague) and Klášter svatého Jiří (St. George's Convent, Prague), it is the oldest surviving church building within Prague Castle.
- Chrám Všech svatých (All Saints Church)
- Kaple svatého Kříže (Holy Cross Chapel)
- Starý královský palác (Old Royal Palace)
- Letohrádek královny Anny (Queen Anne's Summer Palace, better known as the Belvedere)
- Lobkovický palác (Lobkowicz Palace, not to be confused with the German embassy in Malá Strana)
- Nový královský palác (New Royal Palace (Prague))
- Sloupová síň (Column Hall)
- Španělský sál (Spanish Hall)
- Rudolfova galerie (Rudolph's Gallery)
- Rothmayerův sál (Rothmayer's Hall)
- Vladislavský sál (Vladislav Hall)
- Bílá věž (White Tower (Prague Castle))
- Černá věž (Black Tower (Prague Castle))
- Daliborka (Dalibor Tower)
- Prašná věž or Mihulka (Mihulka)
- Zlatá ulička (Golden Lane)
- Staré purkrabství (Old Supreme Burgrave's House )
- Míčovna (Ball Game Hall)
- Jízdárna Pražského hradu (Riding School)
- Staré proboštství (Old Provost Residence )
- Nové proboštství (New Provost Residence)
- Obrazárna Pražského hradu (Picture Gallery of the Prague Castle)
- Konírna Pražského hradu (stable)
- Prašný most (Powder Bridge)
- Královská zahrada (Royal Garden of Prague Castle)
- Oranžérie (Orangery)
- Zahrada na terase Jízdárny (Riding School Terrace Garden)
- Zahrada Na Baště (The Garden on the Bastion)
- Jižní zahrady (South Gardens)
- Jelení příkop (Deer Moat)
- Svatováclavská vinice (St. Wenceslas vineyard)
- Produkční zahrady Pražského hradu (Horticultural Gardens)
- Kohlova kašna (Kohl's Fountain)
- Matyášova brána (Matthias Gate)
- Obelisk (Obelisk)
- Socha svatého Jiří (Statue of Saint George)
- "Guinness Book of Records entry on Prague Castle". Guinness World Records. 21 July 2006. Archived from the original on 21 July 2006.
- Guinness world records 2015. Guinness World Records. 2014. p. 199. ISBN 978-1-908843-63-0.
- NIPOS: Základní statistické údaje o kultuře v České republice - I. díl - kulturní dědictví (muzea, galerie a památkové objekty)
- Bocco, Diana (29 January 2017). "A Brief History of the Prague Castle". Culture Trip. Retrieved 2019-06-16.
- Zaoral, Roman (2015-09-25). "The management of papal collections and long-distance trade in the thirteenth-century Czech lands". Mélanges de l'École française de Rome: Moyen Âge (127–2). doi:10.4000/mefrm.2732. ISSN 1123-9883.
- Klaus Fischer, Nazi Germany: A New History (New York: Continuum, 1995), p. 433.
- Mirna Solic, The gate open to the Bohemian crown jewels at Radio Prague.
- Gerald Reitlinger, The SS: Alibi of a Nation, 1922-1945 (Boston: Da Capo Press, 1989), p. 215.
- "Lina Heydrich".
- "Prague Castle Tickets". Retrieved 2023-09-21.
- Di Duca, Marc (2015). Rough Guide to Prague. Rough Guides Ltd. ISBN 9780241196311.
- Fischer, Klaus. Nazi Germany: A New History. New York: Continuum, 1995.
- Reitlinger, Gerald. The SS: Alibi of a Nation, 1922-1945. Boston: Da Capo Press, 1989.
- Virtual visit with map and written commentary (in Czech)
- Virtual visit with map and written commentary (in English)
- Tourist information – Official tourist website
- Prague Castle – Official website
- History of Prague Castle