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Prague Castle Gardens

July 27th, 2007

prague castle_1

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Castles are mostly built on hills because the high ground gives defenders a good position from which to repel attacks. Prague castle is no different. It sits atop Hradcny (meaning, naturally, castle hill), the highest point on Vltava River’s left bank. Today, though, there is no need to defend the heights, but they do give visitors the best view of Prague.

prague castle_5Prague Castle has six gardens on its vast grounds. While Upper & Lower Stag Moat are dense, and the Royal Garden is indeed royal, the Garden on the Ramparts captures my attention every time I rail into the city. It’s the view, plain and simple. The ramparts form the southern garden, a narrow strip that abuts the castle walls, lending majesty to the atmosphere. Hidden benches, open courts, and the low wall on which you can sit with your legs overhanging the precipice.

A wide path leads from one end of the ramparts to the other. All is well manicured and made for a quiet stroll after leaving the castle. In fact, the ramparts form the natural exit from which most people leave Prague Castle. But here’s a little secret: most people double back and walk through the flagstone courtyards and narrow lanes of the castle complex, leaving the Garden on the Ramparts uncrowded and ready for you to find a quiet spot up close to the wall.

prague castle_7Flowering bushes, topiary, and short columns of trees form little pockets for intimate conversation or romantic interludes. Statues and monuments create interesting foreground subjects against the city panorama stretching to the horizon. On an extended visit to Prague 12 years ago, I found myself walking up to the castle ramparts more than any other park because the quiet beauty of far-off church spires and red-roofed buildings was an inspiration for photography, writing, sketching, and simple meditation high up here where the birds must fly up to meet you. (I must have a hundred celluloid and digi-cam shots of the city from this position…every one a unique perspective.)

(read more about Prague Castle Gardens highlights here

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