Prague Castle, Take #2

When at first you don’t succeed…

My two trips to Prague were 17 years apart. The first was when I was in middle school, part of a long drive through Europe with my mom and step dad. We spent only 3 days in Prague, and the one was sort of a bust because we arrived quite late. The second day was dedicated to Charles Bridge, Prague Castle and the Old Town Square. I have no memory of the visit to Prague Castle. I was feeling so sick, nothing really mattered. My head hurt and I was dizzy. After a very public throwing up incident, I finally slept in our car and ended up feeling better and enjoying a lovely afternoon and evening in the Town Square.

Prague-Castle

On my second trip, I was determined to make more memories of this Prague attraction (as all I remembered from the first time were the many stairs leading to it – when you’re sick, climbing up and down stairs seems like torture).

Prague Castle Throne Room

Throne Room

My first surprise was that you could get to the entrance without going up those stairs… As it was December, the gardens were pretty much closed and there wasn’t anything interesting to see, so if you’re a big fan of gardens and parks, visit Prague from spring to late autumn, not just before Christmas, like me. This is one of the reasons there will be a third time visiting the city and the castle.

St Vitus Cathedral

St Vitus Cathedral

Prague Castle dates back to 870 AD and it is the largest medieval castle in Europe. The 7 hectares or 18 acres of land it covers went through a few wars, fires, political turmoil and have been renovated a few times, creating today’s large complex of churches, palaces, great halls, fortifications, viewing towers, museums, art galleries, cafes, a monastery and the Golden Lane (which was also closed for some reason and makes for another reason for the third-time’s-a-charm plans).

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St Vitus Cathedral Interior

St Vitus interior

If you want to keep it low budget, you can stroll around the three main courtyards and look at everything from the outside. But I recommend paying to see at least a little of the castle interiors, the St. Vitus Cathedral, and St. George’s Basilica. The long visit ticket plus the photography permit cost about 16 euros, it’s less for the short tour. All price and opening hours details are available here.

St George Basilica

St George Basilica

You absolutely must see the Changing of the Guard when you visit. It happens hourly, but the noon event is what everyone comes for. The midday Changing of the Guard includes a banner exchange and fanfare music.

Changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard, fanfare at the windows

As it happened in most of my recent trips, I stumbled across an unexpected event. In Hoorn, I happened to visit while they were celebrating the town and there were unicorns everywhere, I managed to see the Kermis in Alkmaar, and sheer luck helped me see the Olympic flame passing by through Dumfries. Prague Castle suddenly changed all flags to black ones and we were all trying to figure out what was going on. Vaclav Havel, the Czech Republic’s first president had just died. Sad affair, but still a piece of history I got to experience in the country’s capital city.

St George Basilica interior

St George Interior

The St. Vitus Cathedral and St. George’s Basilica are quite the architectural gems, so I suggest you visit them. I experienced half of them through my viewfinder, but that’s how I go about most of my travel experiences. I need to take dozens of photos to relieve the event later on.

Detail St Vitus Cathedral

Detail, St Vitus Cathedral

We took the exit with the long set of stairs after our visit to the Prague Castle. And I was in for another surprise… There aren’t that many stairs! What first seemed never-ending was actually not much of a challenge. But hey, you can’t argue with the perception of a middle school kid whose head is exploding, can you?

Prague Castle stairs

The stairs leading to Prague Castle





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