Sightseeing in Prague - Castle
Top Sights in Prague
This page includes the best sights in Prague's Hradcany (Castle Area) and Malá Strana (Lesser Town).
Prague's Castle and Malá Strana
Charles Bridge- This bridge, spanning the Vlatva River, is the oldest and most beautiful in Prague, and dates back to the 14th century. The bridge is nearly 1,700 feet long (more than 5 football fields) and is lined with 30 statues of saints. On either end of the bridge are beautiful Gothic towers which can be toured in summer months. Since it is only for pedestrians, it is a popular hangout. In summer months the bridge is very crowded with tourists, musicians, artists and vendors selling typical souvenirs.
Kampa Island- As you approach the Hradcany side of Prague there is a small island called Kampa Island. You can get to the island from Charles Bridge. The island provides a small town feel in this energetic city. From the island you can also access tourist river boats which offer cruises on the Vlatava River. However we prefer to recommend the boat tours offered by the company called EVD. They are located at the end of Paris street under the Cechuv Bridge.
The Royal Mile- The Royal Mile is the route that was followed for the coronation of Czech Kings and foreign dignitaries. It starts in Staré Mesto at the Powder Tower then follows Celetná Street to Karlova Street, over the Charles Bridge to Mostecká Street, next onto Neruda Street which leads to the entrance of the Prague Castle. This Royal Mile passes by many of the famous sights in Prague and gives an excellent view of the various styles of architecture in the city. Please note that the area of Hradcany is on a large hill and therefore there is some strenuous walking involved.
St. Nicholas Church- As you walk the Royal Mile on the Hradcany side, you will pass the church of St. Nicholas. This church dates to the early 18th century and is considered the best example of Baroque architecture in Prague.
Prague Castle- Truly a highlight and must see on any visit to Prague, is the Prague Castle. This is not just one building, but rather a small town in itself. The Castle sits high on a hill in Hradcany.
The castle area was established in the 9th century. In the 12th century a Romanesque palace was added. Under the reign of Charles IV in the 14th century this palace was rebuilt in the Gothic style. The beautiful St. Vitus Cathedral was begun in the year 1344 and was not completed until 1929. In the 17th and 18th centuries the new palace was added under the reigns of Rudolf II and Empress Maria Theresa. Since 1918 the castle area has been the seat of the Czech President.
In the castle area you need a minimum of one and a half hours to see the highlights but four hours will allow you to see most sights. Make sure you see the interior of St. Vitus Cathedral, which is the spiritual symbol of the Czech state. Inside is the chapel of St Wenceslas and the crypts of Bohemian kings.
A full day can be made of the castle area if you also want to visit the following:
Old Royal Palace- with the largest medieval hall in Prague
St. George's Basilica- the oldest church in the castle area
St. George's Convent- the oldest convent in the Czech Republic, now housing collections from the National Gallery
Prague Castle Gallery- remains from Rudolf's collection
Lobkowicz Palace- exhibitions from the National Museum
Mihulka Powder Tower- 15th century tower housing exhibits of medieval arts and crafts.
An excellent way to exit the castle area is along the Golden Lane. This is a tiny lane of houses that are built right into the castle fortifications. In the 16th century, craftsmen and castle guards lived here. From 1916-1917, writer Frank Kafka worked at number 22. Today the charming street is lined with shops selling jewelry and other typical crafts from the region. This lane also leads you to the dungeon and original castle walls area where you can admire the wonderful views over this amazing "City of a Hundred Spires." On the Southern side of the castle are the Palace Gardens which are open from April until October.
Malá Strana- Here you will find the Church of Our Lady of Victory. This Baroque style church is famous around the world for its Prague Bambino. This wax figure of baby Jesus was presented to the church by Polyxena of Lobkowicz in 1628 and has been an attraction since.
The Dancing House- This house is a modern architectural beauty which continues Prague's tradition of interesting buildings. Inspired by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing and designed by Frank Gehry. Completed in 1996, the building houses one of Prague's top restaurants, La Perle de Prague.
Petrin View Tower- For a diversion from the crowds, take the funicular up the hill to the Petrin View Tower. This 180 high metal tower is a small replica of the Eiffel Tower. You can climb the 299 steps for amazing views over the city. Then stroll your way back down to the river through the natural gardens.
To help you better understand the city's layout, we have divided the best sights in Prague by area. Please also visit our pages about Staré Mesto (the Old Town), Josefov (Jewish Prague) and General Information about Prague.
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Prague Kampa Island
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