Prague Castle has stood the test of time thanks to reconstruction, expansion, and maintenance operations. 

Get to know more about Prague Castle’s history and why it is so popular.

Origin of Prague Castle

Origin of Prague Castle
Image: Wikimedia.org

According to archaeological studies and the oldest written sources, Prague Castle was built around 880 by Prince Boivoj of the Premyslides dynasty.

The medieval castle site was reinforced with a moat, clay, and stone rampart. 

The Virgin Mary Church was the earliest fortified structure. In the first part of the 10th century, more churches dedicated to St. George and St. Vitus were built.

Prague Castle was the head of the state’s residents and the church’s highest representative, the Prague bishop, beginning in the 10th century. 

On the grounds of Prague Castle, the order of Benedictine nuns established the first convent in Bohemia, a convent next to the church of St. George.

Journey through time

Journey through time
Image: Wikimedia.org

Since the 11th century, the basilica of St. Vitus has served as the principal castle church, housing the relics of the land’s patron saints.

The Prague church was an important educational institution from the 10th century.

Prague Castle prospered under the reign of King and, subsequently, Emperor Charles IV because it became the first imperial home, the seat of the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. 

The royal residence was wonderfully reconstructed, as were the defenses. The Gothic church of St. Vitus, modeled by French cathedrals, began construction.

Construction at the Castle proceeded during the reign of Charles’ son, Wenceslas IV (Václav IV). 

The Hussite conflicts and subsequent decades of inactivity caused the Castle’s buildings and walls to deteriorate.

The next prosperous period occurred after 1483 when a king of the new Jagellons dynasty made the Castle his seat. 

The rulers of a new dynasty, the Habsburgs, began reconstructing the Castle into a Renaissance residence. 

The Royal Garden was established first, and during the 16th century, buildings acting as amusement were added to it, including the Summer Palace, the beautiful Ball Game Hall, a shooting range, and the Lion’s Court. 

Following that, the Cathedral and the Royal Palace were modified. 

Along the southern walls, new living homes began to be constructed west of the Old Royal Palace.

The Castle’s adaption peaked during the 16th century, throughout the reign of Rudolph II, who stayed permanently at Prague Castle and began transforming it into a majestic and dignified center of the empire. 

And he built the northern wing of the palace, which now houses the Spanish Hall, to store his valuable artistic and scientific collections.

The defenestration of Prague Castle in 1618 began a long series of conflicts during which Prague Castle was devastated and looted. 

It was only employed on rare and temporary occasions by the country’s monarch.

Renovation of Prague castle

The Castle underwent its final major reconstruction in the second part of the 18th century, transforming it into a prominent chateau-style seat. 

But at the time, Vienna was the imperial capital, while Prague was merely a provincial town. 

The Castle steadily deteriorated, and the sale of Emperor Rudolph’s remaining possessions depleted its art treasures.

After surrendering in 1848, Emperor Ferdinand V chose Prague Castle as his residence. The Holy Cross Chapel on the Second Courtyard was rebuilt on this occasion. 

The Spanish Hall, along with the Rudolph Gallery, was decorated in preparation for Francis Joseph I’s coronation, which did not take place.

Following the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, Prague Castle became the residence of the head of state once more. 

In 1920, the Slovene architect Josip Plecnik was tasked with making the necessary changes.

Today, repairs and improvements to Prague Castle’s grounds are continuously happening, and this isn’t just for building maintenance. 

The primary goal is to make the Castle grounds available to all visitors. 

Apart from being the seat of the head of state, Prague Castle is now an important cultural and historical monument. 

The Crown Jewels are stored at Prague Castle, as with the relics of Bohemian rulers, rare Christian relics, art masterpieces, and historical records. 

Critical events for the entire country continue to occur within its confines. 

As a result, Prague Castle represents the Czech state’s historical history, connecting the present with the past.

Featured Image: Rabbit75_cav

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