Unveiling the Mysteries: 10 Fascinating Facts about Prague Castle

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Prague Castle is the country’s most visited and oldest castle, located in the capital city of Prague.

And there is a reason why. This castle is full of mysteries and rich history that visitors should know about before going there.

This article will tell you some interesting Prague Castle facts that even tour guides won’t be able to tell you.

1. Prague Castle is not a Single Building

Prague Castle isn’t just a single building; it’s a large castle complex comprising many buildings, including palaces, churches, towers, gardens and other structures. 

The landmarks of Prague Castle include:

Old Royal Palace: The original residence building, built at the turn of the 9th and 10th centuries, is primarily made of wood.

St. Vitus Cathedral: A Roman Catholic metropolitan cathedral dedicated to St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas, and St. Adalbert, founded in 1344 by Charles IV.

St. George Basilica: A Roman Catholic basilica dedicated to St. George, built in the 10th century.

Chapel of St. Wenceslas: A chapel dedicated to St. Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czech Republic.

Daliborka Tower: A Gothic tower built in the 14th century.

Royal Garden: A beautiful garden within the castle complex.

Golden Lane: A picturesque street with small houses and workshops.

Prague Castle is like a mini-city within itself, with different parts serving various purposes.

So, when people talk about Prague Castle, they’re referring to this entire complex, not just one single structure.

2. Holds Place in the Guinness Book of World Records

Guinness Book of World Records
Image: William Zhang on Unsplash

With a large area of nearly 70,000 square meters, Prague Castle is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest ancient castle in the world.

The complex has an impressive length of 570 meters and is about 130 meters wide.

It attracts 1.8 million annual visitors and is the most visited tourist attraction in Prague and the country. 

So, make sure you book your tickets in advance.

3. Prague Castle has a Unique 4:4:4 Ratio

The Prague Castle Complex has a perfect 4:4:4 ratio, comprising four churches, four palaces and four towers.

The four churches of the castle are St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George’s Basilica, the oldest surviving church within the castle, All Saints Church and Holy Cross Chapel.

The four palaces include the Old Royal Palace, Belvedere, Lobkowicz Palace, and the New Royal Palace.

The four towers of the castle are the White Tower, Black Tower, Dalibor Tower and Mihulka.

Besides these, it has five halls, eleven gardens and many other buildings.

4. Lawbreakers have been Thrown out of the Castle’s Windows

facts about Prague Castle
Image: Cecilia Rodríguez Suárez on Unsplash

Prague Castle has a fascinating story that gave rise to the unusual word “defenestration,” meaning throwing someone out of a window.

Back in 1618, a dispute unfolded between Roman Catholic officials and Protestants over the closure of new Protestant chapels.

The Protestants won the trial and didn’t wait for the formal sentence.

Instead, they took matters into their own hands and threw two Catholic regents and their secretaries out of a window on the charge of violating the right to religious freedom.

What makes this tale funny is the unexpected twist: A fortunate pile of horse manure broke their fall, luckily leaving them unharmed.

This historic incident introduced the word “defenestration” to the world.

But that’s not the end of the story. Two more defenestrations occurred later, each with gravity and seriousness.

So, when you explore Prague Castle, remember that its windows frame stunning views and allow you to witness some rather unconventional historical moments!

5. It Secures the Crown Jewels with Seven Keys

St. Vitus Cathedral
Image: Mike Swigunski on Unsplash

The castle safeguards the Bohemian Crown Jewels deep within St. Vitus Cathedral.

The collection of jewels consists of St. Wenceslas’s crown, a royal scepter, and a magnificent coronation cloak.

These jewels are not just protected by any ordinary means but are kept in an iron safe with not one or two but seven locks!

These seven locks have corresponding keys held by seven trusted individuals, including the president, prime minister, and Prague archbishop. 

And to add another layer of protection, only the president has the authority to decide when the Bohemian Crown Jewels are put on public display.

All seven key holders must gather in Prague to unlock the treasures for public viewing.

Nowadays, this rare event occurs every five years.

6. A Seat of Power in Prague

What comes to mind when you think of castles? Likely, they are the “seat of power,” and Prague Castle fits this description perfectly.

With roots tracing back to around 880 A.C., it was founded by Bořivoj of the Premyslid dynasty.

Over the centuries, Prague Castle has been a residence for many kings.

In the 10th century, it became the seat for Czech crown princes.

Fast forward to the 14th century, extending all the way to the 17th century, and the castle became the royal residence for the kings who governed Bohemia.

Today, it holds the official office of the President of the Czech Republic, embodying a seamless transition from historic monarchy to modern governance.

Besides kings, the castle has also been home to many emperors, including Charles IV (1346–1378), Ferdinand V  and more.

7. The Butcher of Prague and Prague Castle

Butcher of Prague
Image: Kingsuk Pasari on Unsplash

When the Nazis ruled during World War II, Reinhard Heydrich (appointed by Hitler) held a court at Prague Castle to rule over the Czech people of Bohemia-Moravia.

However, Heydrich was soon known as the Butcher of Prague due to his harsh actions, including making people disappear and ordering executions.

This frightened the Czechs a lot, and a group of exiled Czech government officials decided to act.

They devised a plan called Operation Anthropoid aimed at assassinating Heydrich.

In May 1942, two Czech soldiers executed the plan, shooting and throwing grenades at Heydrich as he drove in his convertible.

Though Heydrich died a week later from his injuries, the event is remembered as a brave act of resistance.

The story of Operation Anthropoid is depicted in the 2016 film “Anthropoid.”

Here is another interesting fact related to this story:

People say that Heydrich loved the castle so much that he played king by putting on the crown.

And it is said that if someone who isn’t the real king puts on the crown, they’ll die within a year.

Guess what happened? Less than a year after Heydrich played king, rebels ambushed him on his way to the castle.

8. The Construction of the Castle Dates Back to the 9th Century

Castle Dates Back
Image: Carina Maisriemler on Unsplash

These facts about Prague Castle’s construction date back to 870, when the first building, the Church of the Virgin Mary, was started.

As the centuries passed, the castle evolved under the reigns of various rulers.

Duke Vratislaus I and his son St. Wenceslaus founded the Basilica of Saint George and the Basilica of St. Vitus in the 10th century. 

In the 14th century, under Charles IV, the royal palace took on a Gothic style, replacing the rotunda and basilica of St. Vitus, which took almost six centuries to complete.

Wars and fires took a toll on the castle, with notable damage during the Hussite Wars and a large fire in 1541.

The castle saw significant rebuilding under the Habsburgs, with Renaissance-style additions.

It faced further challenges during the Thirty Years’ War, with looting by Swedes in 1648. 

Empress Maria Theresa initiated the last major rebuilding in the 18th century.

So, Prague Castle has been under construction from the 9th century until now.

You can learn more about the history of Prague Castle in our article.

9. The Castle has a Tropical Garden

Among the many gardens of Prague Castle, there is also a tropical garden.

In the 16th century, Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II had a special garden at Prague Castle where he grew tropical plants, like citrus trees. 

This tradition is continued at the Orangery, a unique, tubular-shaped greenhouse built in 1999 in the Royal Gardens.

Olga Havlová, the first wife of then-President Václav Havel, designed the three-part structure.

It has different areas for growing, budding, and caring for various tropical plants and Mediterranean fruits.

During the summer, the Orangery opens its doors to visitors, allowing them to experience the centuries-old botanical tradition.

10. Kafka Spent Time Writing at Prague Castle

Kafka Spent Time
Image: Rico Schwab on Unsplash

Golden Lane, part of Prague Castle, is a beautiful street with little houses aligned in a row.

Nowadays, it’s a spot where many tourists hang out, checking out souvenirs and books on the lower floors.

But way back from 1916 to 1917, a famous novelist named Franz Kafka lived in house No. 22 on Golden Lane with his sister.

During his stay there, Kafka wrote some short stories for “A Country Doctor” and got inspired to write his whole book called “The Castle.” 

Here’s one of the fun facts about Prague Castle’s famous Golden Lane:

Golden Lane in Prague got its name from the legends and stories surrounding it.

According to one tradition, this street got its name from alchemists who lived on it during the late 16th century under Emperor Rudolf II, who were trying to turn base metals into gold.

While the alchemists may not have succeeded in their attempt, their experiment contributed to the street’s name.

Some More Interesting Facts about Prague City

1. Councilors blinded Hanus Carolinum, the maker of Prague’s astronomical clock, out of fear that he would recreate it elsewhere.

Surprisingly, an exact copy of it was made in the Hongdae district of Seoul, South Korea.

2. You can also visit the Charles Bridge, near Prague Castle, which is said to be haunted by ghosts with spiked heads.

3. The Zizkov Tower in Prague is considered the world’s second-ugliest building.

4. Prague locals consume the most beer globally and the city also has the largest nightclub in central Europe.

FAQs

What is an interesting fact about Prague?

Prague Castle has a unique 4:4:4 ratio, comprising four churches, four palaces, and four towers.

Is Prague Castle the largest castle in the world?

One of the most interesting facts about Prague Castle is that it holds a Guinness World Record as the largest ancient castle globally, spanning nearly 70,000 square meters.

Why is Prague Castle so famous?

Prague Castle is renowned for its rich history, architecture, Guinness World Record, and serving as a seat of power in the capital city.

Besides being a castle, it is also the office of the President of the Czech Republic.

Featured Image: Wikipedia.org

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