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Prague Castle Gardens highlights

October 29th, 2007

prague castle_6Food & Drinks in Prague Castle Gardens
You cannot find any drinks or food carts in the castle gardens. There are several cafes inside the castle walls, from which you can eat at tables or purchase take-away snacks, sandwiches and drinks to bring inside the garden for a spectacular lunch view of the city. Otherwise, I suggest you buy water and picnic gear on the street leading up to the castle. There is a fruit stand and a food cart outside the the Malostranská metro stop (Thunovská Street) at the base of the long stairs leading up to the castle. Another option for picnic gear is the walking route from Charles Bridge: along Mostecká Street there are markets for bread, cold cuts, and drinks.

Outside the Garden on the Ramparts
To be honest, outside the garden brings you inside Prague Castle. While touring the castle costs money, you can enjoy some of the gardens for free, including the ramparts. This is sort of a unique situation. Prague Castle is an historic site, but it also serves the seat of Czech government, and so it is a public space. Yet tours inside historic buildings—such as the Old Royal Palace, St. Vitus’ Cathedral, museums, Powder Tower, and shopping on Golden Lane—will set you back a few bucks. All well worth it, by the way. If you’re on a long visit or planning to live in Prague or study at one of its universities, you’ll have plenty of chances to return to the gardens again and again.

prague castle_2Prague Castle handles touring uniquely, as well. There are more than 26 separate buildings or sites you can visit, but you don’t have to visit all, and so tickets are structured around tour options. It’s not complicated nor is it a rip-off. You can spend all day—morning to sunset, in fact—going through the castle complex. Inside, you will find cafés and restaurants, numerous toilet locations (always a plus when good Czech beer is close by), and what I think are the best arts & tourists shops in Prague along Golden Lane.

If you love history, don’t miss the Old Royal Palace. Inside, Vladislav Hall is the largest high-Gothic vaulted space in Central Europe. Daliborka Tower is another treat: a caon tower overlooking Stag Moat gardens that was turned into a prison. Spanish Hall is Prague Castle’s ceremonial hall, decorated in French Renaissance style with guilt chandeliers, mirrors, and high windows. Golden Lane is an alleyway tucked into the back corner of the castle that once housed the kings snipers in the 16th century, later goldsmiths, and now a very kitschy avenue where, at No. 22, Franz Kafka lived for a spell.

prague castle_4St. Vitus’ Cathedral is the jewel on the castle grounds. It actually houses the Czech coronation jewels, and its history reaches back to Charles IV. As Holy Roman Emperor established Prague in 1348 as Europe’s leading city for the arts, culture, and university education. The cathedral is an imposing structure to view because it takes up so much room inside the walled castle. On one side there is only ten meters between its walls and the outer buildings along the castle’s northern wall. It’s impossible to take a photograph of the full front façade with its enormous stained glass window. But there is silver to this cloud’s lining: look up and snap away until you get photo-trigger finger. For a full list of things to do, jump to Prague’s city page.
Directions to Prague Castle
Trams 22 and 23 stop at three spots around Prague Castle, one of which is closest to its Klárov stairway entrance. Metro stop (green line) Malostranská is just one block south of the Klárov stairway. Metro stop (green line) Hradcanská comes within a couple blocks of the far entrance at Royal Gardens. If you’re walking in from Charles Bridge, follow Mostecká Street, veer right across the St. Nicholas Church parking lot and on up the hill along Nerudova Street. Yes, it’s uphill to the castle, so wear proper shoes. Taxi service is available in the New Town area, of course, and is the best way for disabled persons to visit Prague Castle. The castle grounds do pretty well servicing handicapped and disabled persons, though we’re talking about an ancient structure with some stairways, and limited elevator service outside the refurbished, more modern buildings.

(return to the Prague Castle Gardens main page)

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