According to the Guinness Book of Records, with an approximate length of 570 meters and an average width of 130 meters, Prague Castle ranks amoungst the largest castle complexes in the world.
From substantial archaeological research and from the oldest documented records, we know that Prague Castle was founded in the late 9th century by Prince Bořivoj, the first historically documented representative of the Přemyslid dynasty.
In AD 870, Prince Borivoj, one of the first Czech rulers of the Premyslid Dynasty ordered the building of the Castle. The first princely palace was probably built of wood, with most attention being paid to the Christian sanctuaries. The squared Church of Our Lady – Prague Castle‘s first stone building – was the oldest among them. The Basilica of Saint George and the Rotunda of St. Vitus were founded several years later – in the first half of the 10th century.
The Romanesque period had a decisive impact in the development of the Castle. During that time, the former fortified settlement was transformed into a medieval castle. The new Royal Palace was built of stone in the first half of the 12th century as well as the new Romanesque fortification system replacing the ancestral defensive ramparts.
Later in the 14th century, during the reign of Charles IV, the Royal Palace was rebuilt in the high Gothic style and the castle fortifications were strengthened.
Further intensive building activities in the Prague castle complex began in 1485 by King Vladislav II Jagiello. This development was linked to the name of the royal architect Benedikt Rejt who built the Jagiello fortification system on the Southern side of the Stag Moa,t as well as Vladislav Hall – the largest secular premises in the Middle Ages.
The most destructive fire in the history of Prague – in 1541 – reached as far as the area of Prague Castle and seriously damanged most of the buildings in the whole complex.
In 1526 Ferdinand I of the Habsburg dynasty was elected to the throne of Bohemia. Even if this sovereign did not chose Prague as his permanent residence, he initiated the transformation of the former medieval Castle into a chateau representative of the Renaissance style, surrounded by beautiful gardens. His efforts were continued by his successors – Maxmilian II and Rudolph II - who moved their permanent residence to Prague.
The Royal Garden was founded as early as in 1534 and during the 16th century, several Renaissance buildings were built here: the Summer palace, the Big and Small Ball Games Hall, the Lion's court, as well as a shooting range. Later the cathedral and the royal palace were also modified in the Renaissance style.
Prague castle used to house the valuable and rich collections of Emperor Rudolph II. Unfortunately, the original collections were reduced by looting of the gallery by the Swedes in 1648, at the end of the Thirty Years' War.
The last large-scale rebuilding of the castle was carried out in the second half of the 18th century during the reign of the Empress Maria Theresa.
In 1918 the castle became the seat of the first Czechoslovak President, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, who invited the Slovenian architect, Josip Plečnik, to modify the whole Prague Castle for presidential use.
During the reconstruction of the Castle in 1920 a huge archaeological site was discovered, proving that the original Castle complex had the same ‚footprint‘ of today’s castle complex.
Originally, the castle premises included the princely or royal palace, three churches and monastery. Even though the fortification withstood many fires, invasions and even the World Wars, the Prague Castle complex has been preserved almost entirely up to the present day, and as time passed, it became the symbol and living legend of Prague.
After the establishment of the new Czechoslovak state in 1918, the New Royal Palace and the surrounding gardens were adapted by the Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik. The renovations continued in 1936 under the leadership of the architect Pavel Janák who was Plečnik's successor.
Today Prague Castle represents the seat of the head of state as well as the most important of all the Czech Republic’s cultural and historical monuments. The beautiful coronation jewels of the Bohemian kings are deposited in St. Vitus Cathedral, as well as the remains of the Bohemian kings, valuable Christian relics, art treasures and historical documents. While passing through all the courtyards of the Castle Complex you can enjoy an attractive tour through an important part of Czech history.
In addition to this you can admire beautiful buildings, monuments and so much more.