Prague Castle, In and Out without Hassle

02.11.2014 | 00:00
Prague Castle, In and Out without Hassle

Prague Castle has been towering over the Vltava banks in the Prague basin for more than a thousand years. Since its origins, it has served as the parliamentary seat for Bohemian Princes, Kings and Emperors and in modern times, it has become the residence of presidents of Czechoslovakia, and later on, those of the Czech Republic. Prague Castle has undergone a great deal of reconstruction throughout the long period of its existence, often playing a significant role in both national and European history.

The origins of Prague Castle are connected with the first Czech ruling dynasty of the Premyslids. The original fortified settlement evolved into a powerful sovereign’s residence with stone fortifications, a magnificent royal palace, three churches and two monasteries.

The Castle dramatically expanded in the second half of the 14 th century during the reign of Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Two of the Castle’s dominant features were built in the high Gothic style - St Vitus Cathedral and the Royal Palace.

The Hussite conquering in 1421 and subsequent decades when it had not been lived in contributed greatly to its worsened state. At the turn of the 15 th and 16 th centuries during the reigns of Vladislaus Jagiellon and his son Louis, the castle was thoroughly refortified and new late-Gothic representative buildings were added.

Renaissance imprinted a new face not only on the castle buildings but also on their surroundings. On the site of former vineyards and unused grounds, new gardens began to be formed. Following a destructive fire in 1541, busy construction works took place at the castle. It was during the time of Rudolf II at the turn of the 16 th and 17 th centuries in particular that made the castle the Emperor’s residence again, one with splendid art collections, and it became the centre of sciences and fine arts.

After the Thirty Years’ War, the Habsburgs chose Vienna as their main permanent residence, making Prague Castle a mere provincial residence. Despite that, it went through an extensive reconstruction in the 18 th century during the reign of Maria Theresa, which gave it its present-day appearance.

Prague Castle became the residence for the head of state in 1918 on the occasion of the new independent Czechoslovak Republic formation. The castle complex has undergone modern redevelopment in order to meet the needs of its new role as a presidential residence.

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