If you ever get the chance to go to Prague, you will want to go to the castle. I have a couple of suggestions that will make your day more enjoyable:
- Get there early. This place gets incredibly crowded – aim to arrive in time for the opening at 9 am. If you take public transportation to get here, it will be less crowded early in the morning.
- Take the #22 tram, not the Metro (subway). Get off at the Prazsky Hrad stop; cross the street to the left and get in line to go through security. If you take the Metro (Malostranska stop) you will have to walk up a long set of steps to reach the castle and your entire visit will be walking uphill
We took the tram and were so glad we did. The signage in the tram is excellent; the best we have encountered anywhere, making it easy to know where you are going and when to get off.
We arrived at the castle right as it opened. Unfortunately, we were not the only people there – there were big lineups at both security checkpoints. There were large tour groups (several Viking River cruises groups) that had arrived before us. Once passing security, you can wander the grounds of the castle for free, but you will want to enter the buildings. There is a hidden ticket office right past the security checkpoint. Look for a sign pointing to the left; I think not many people see the sign and end up at one of the other offices which are much more crowded. There are several ticket options; we opted for circuit A which allows you to see the main sites. There are 10 buildings in the complex. Your ticket will show you which ones you are allowed to enter. If you want to take pictures inside, you must purchase a photography pass as well.
The first building we saw was the most impressive one – St. Vitus’s Cathedral. We had to squeeze in because that was the first stop for all of the tour groups. We wiggled our way through them; our goal was to get in front of the groups which we hoped allowed us to see the rest of the castle crowd-free. As you enter each building, you scan your ticket. If you paid to see that particular building, the turnstile allows you through.
We did not rent the audioguide, but there are quite a few information plaques that helped us understand what we were seeing. I think if you listened to the guide and read everything, you could spend a day or two here! Perhaps that is why the admission ticket is good for two days.
I wish I knew how to get better pictures of stained glass windows; the stained glass here was spectacular. The entire interior of the cathedral was spectacular!
I noticed that, just like in Central America, led lights are now used instead of actual candles. And, these are on a timer.
One of the more interesting buildings was the Story of Prague Castle, building II. No photographs are allowed inside which I learned after I had taken a slew of pictures. I am not posting any of them. I had not read the photography pass; it lists several buildings where photography is not allowed.
We went through the Old Royal Palace and the Basilica of St. George, then headed through the Golden Lane. We climbed up a narrow, steep set of stairs to view armor. Do you notice the special feature that a couple of these suits of armor had? I especially enjoyed the chicken armor. We also found a prison and torture display. There were shops that were quite popular. By now, we were approaching the other entrance to the castle and all of those that had taken the subway were piling in to the Golden Lane. It was quite crowded. Up until now, our strategy of getting in front of the crowds had worked like a charm – we were the only people in some of the buildings. But, since we were near an entrance, there was a logjam of people once more.
There were spectacular views of the city from the castle so we stopped to take a few photos.
Our last stop was the Rosenberg Palace which had a few rooms with furniture so we could see how the other half lived.
We took the Metro back because to take the tram would’ve meant climbing back up the hill to reach the tram stop and that just wasn’t going to happen! The Metro is downhill from where we exited the castle and so was convenient. We passed many people climbing up the hill towards where we had just exited. Someone gave those tourists bad advice as to how to reach the castle. They were doing it the hard way!