Monday, August 13, 2018

The Best View of Prague at Prague Castle

Ashley Turner standing in front of view of Prague from Prague Castle

Prague Castle, the official office of the President of Prague, is a 9th Century castle complex sitting on top of a hill that offers the most spectacular views of the city. Whether your intention is to do the full tour of the premises or simply to walk around to see what you see, it's a must for anyone visiting Prague.

Large wall on stairs leading up to Prague Castle

The journey to Prague Castle is admittedly a little daunting as it involves walking up about a million stairs. Well, not really, but it certainly looks like it when you're standing at the bottom in the middle of a record heat wave like I was. There may be a way to drive up there - I mean, I'm sure there is since I saw cars, but walking around a new city always gives you a better lay of the land. The walk up to the castle isn't too bad though and it's lined with adorable shops, restaurants and a place that claims to be the oldest pub in Prague - whether it is in fact the oldest or not remains unknown to me, but I had a quick glance inside and it certainly looks like it could be! You'll find there are plenty of vendors selling water if you need to hydrate and my favourite shop along the way was a place called Prague Chocolate Factory Store which offers free samples and air conditioning, so definitely pop in there. I dare you to leave without buying some delicious Steiner & Kovarik chocolate covered almonds in any number of the amazing available flavours - they're too good to resist! If you're more adventurous, you can perhaps pick up some chocolate beer or wine to take home, but that didn't sound as tempting to me... 

Prague rooftops

As your walking up the seemingly never-ending stairway, it's tempting to look back to see the view, but I promise, it gets so much better when you reach the top. The incredible shapes and colours of Prague come to life and you can see well-known sights in the distance like the Powder Tower and Charles Bridge.

Front view of Prague Castle

Once you reach the top of the staircase, Prague Castle is just steps away. If visiting during the hotter months as I was and lucky enough, you might find the water truck spraying to cool down both the roads and the people. There's no entry fee for going on to the grounds, but you may have your bag checked and you'll be required to walk through a metal detector. It only takes a minute or two and then you're free to wander around.

Standing in Prague Castle Gardens

First up on the left as you walk in are the gardens where you'll also find a cafe that comes in handy after the long walk up those killer stairs. The cafe serves lots of food, drink and coffee or tea options, so you can sit, relax and enjoy a refreshment before heading deeper into the castle complex.

St. Vitus Cathedral

Once inside the castle grounds there are lots of buildings, statues and other structures to occupy your time, but the one that sticks out the most is St. Vitus Cathedral, the seat of the Arch Bishop of Prague. The largest and most important church in the Czech Republic, St. Vitus Cathedral is a beautiful, gothic-style Roman Catholic Church and a must-see if you're visiting the castle complex. You can enter the cathedral for free and photography is allowed inside - it's worth taking the time to see the bright and colourful stained glass windows inside that are unlike any others I've seen before.

religious mosaic

Overlooking the Vltava River, St. Vitus Cathedral is a grand structure covered in multiple mosaic patterns with golden accents. The cathedral construction began in 1344, but stopped in the 15th Century due to the Hussite War when many of the furnishings, pictures and sculptures were damaged. Further damage occurred in 1541 when a great fire ravaged the cathedral. Construction and renovation of St. Vitus Cathedral didn't resume until the 20th Century and it was finally finished in 1929, just in time for the St. Winceslaus Jubilee in 1929, nearly 600 years after construction had begun. 

St. Vitus rose window

Though St. Vitus Cathedral attracts quite a lot of tourists, it is still an operating church, holding regular services. Furthermore, St. Vitus has been the site of coronations for Czech kings and queens and a door inside the Winceslaus Chapel leads straight to the Crown Chamber where the Bohemian Crown Jewels are held.

Prague

You can spend as much or as little time as you like visiting the castle. For me personally, I went for the view and just to enjoy the architecture - I did not buy tickets and do the tour. I found the views so incredibly breathtaking though and seeing the colourful rooftops of Prague from above was such an experience. In total, we probably spent about an hour or maybe an hour and a half on the grounds. We could've done it more quickly, but we took some time to relax and enjoy the surroundings. Of course if you were so inclined, you could probably spend a lot longer there, really taking it all in - it's entirely up to you.

View from the Garden on the Ramparts at Prague Castle

A walk through the Garden on the Ramparts on your way out of the property along the way is the way to go. Beautiful gardens, stunning views and a few places on the way to stop for the perfect photo opportunities are all present. The walk takes maybe 5 or 10 minutes and it's absolutely lovely. You'll find yourself wandering back towards the gate that leads you to the staircase you walked up on the way for the hike back down, which is thankfully a lot easier than the uphill trip before.
Black camisole tank, black lace trimmed shorts, black flip-flops and black sunglasses
Top: Stradivarius / Shorts: ASOS / Shoes: Havaianas / Sunglasses: Maui Jim
For more information, to book tickets or guided tours or to read more about Prague Castle, click here to check out the visitors website
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