Prague Castle will open its previously inaccessible spaces to the public

From March, the castle will offer a series of special tours rather than raise the current basic entry for its traditionally visited spaces.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 21.01.2023 14:46:00 (updated on 22.01.2023) Reading time: 4 minutes

Prague Castle has long been Czechia’s top tourist attraction, but for those who think they've explored every opulent corner of the world's largest castle complex, there's more in store this year. In an effort to offer something new, several guided tours of previously inaccessible areas will start on March 1.

The new guided tours, which come at an extra fee, should help the castle cover its rising costs, while keeping entry fees the same desipte the current inflation, the President’s Office has announced. Tickets prices for St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, the Basilica of St. Jiří, and the Golden Lane will remain CZK 250 this year.

“It is not possible to allow completely free access to many places due to heritage protection, that is why we are introducing a number of new tours accompanied by guides and curators,” Jan Novák, the director of the administration of Prague Castle, said in a press release.

Go behind the ropes at St. Vitus Cathedral

A tour called "St. Vitus up close" will allow visitors into some areas of the cathedral that have special heritage protection, including the St. Wenceslas Chapel, the Royal Tombs, and additional spaces on the ground floor.

The St. Wenceslas Chapel, which houses the tomb and relics of the patron saint of Bohemia features walls adorned with semi-precious stones and gold details. Frescoes depict scenes from the Bible as well as the saint’s life. Currently, visitors can only glimpse the St. Wenceslas Chapel from the entrance. The tour takes visitors behind the ropes with a guide.

The chapel, which houses the tomb and relics of St. Wenceslas, features walls decorated with semi-precious stones and gold details. Frescoes depict biblical scenes as well as the saint’s life.

A seven-lock door leads to the coronation chamber, which houses the Crown Jewels. Seven keys, held by the president, the Prague archbishop, and other dignitaries, open the doors when the jewels go on display.

Emperor Charles IV is supposed to have had a hand in the chapel’s design, though its primary architect was Petr Parléř, who also designed Charles Bridge.

The Royal Tombs can be found down a narrow staircase in the lower level of the cathedral. The crypt houses the tombs of Emperor Charles IV, Emperor Rudolf II, King Jiří z Poděbrad, King Wenceslas IV, and several other prominent rulers and their wives. The cathedral basement features stonework from an 11th-century basilica.

Tomb of Emperor Charles IV. Photo: Hrad.cz.
Tomb of Emperor Charles IV. Photo: Hrad.cz.

Explore the New and Old Royal palaces

More recent history can be glimpsed along a new route that allows visitors into the south wing of Prague Castle’s New Royal Palace. Rooms used for ceremonial occasions and the newly established Museum of the Order of the White Lion, a high state award given out by the president, can be found here. This route encompasses a series of nooks and crannies: a dressing room by the presidential balcony, several salon rooms and lounges, a hall of mirrors, a gallery of heroes, and more.

Two new routes lead through the Old Royal Palace. The "Old Royal Palace up close" tour lets visitors into the small Audience Hall of King Vladislav II Jagiellonian. Emblems of the royal lands appear in the vaulting and the king's monogram above the window near where he sat on his throne. An iron door reveals a small secret room.

Inside the Old Royal Palace. Photo: Hrad.cz.
Inside the Old Royal Palace. Photo: Hrad.cz.

The route also includes the Vladislav Hall, the Ludvík Wing, and the Old Chamber with copies of the Czech crown jewels. The tour ends with an entrance to the typically closed-to-the-public southern viewing terrace, which looks out onto Prague’s historic center.

A separate tour of the Old Royal Palace is devoted to the oldest Romanesque and Gothic parts of the building. It also includes explanations of the most important parts of the "Story of Prague Castle" permanent exhibition.

Stroll the castle gardens

Tours of the Royal Garden and several of its buildings give the history of the Stag Moat and show the view from the terrace of the Riding School.

After entering the Royal Garden, visitors can hear about the Lion's Court and a residence, and enter the Ball Game Hall and Orangery. At the Royal Summer Palace, they will get to know about the design and the nearby Singing Fountain. A walk along the garden’s north side will go past the Empire Greenhouse and people can then enter Falconer's House.

Another tour takes people through the southern gardens, which offer views of Prague’s center. Guides will explain architect Jože Plečnik’s work for President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk with a focus on the gardens. The tour will go through several connected gardens and includes a Baroque pavilion and the Plečnik viewpoint. It will also be possible to enter the castle vineyards and other points of interest not normally open to the public.

Orangery in the Royal Gardens. Photo: Wikimedia commons, CC by SA 3.0.
Orangery in the Royal Gardens. Photo: Wikimedia commons, CC by SA 3.0.

Prices for these tours vary from CZK 200 to CZK 400 in Czech and CZK 300 to CZK 600 in another language. Discounts are available for students and seniors, and family tickets will be available. There will also be a new route that combines the permanent Story of Prague Castle exhibition and the castle picture gallery. The ticket will cost CZK 200, while currently buying tickets for both costs CZK 300.

The gardens and Stag Moat can also be entered for free, without a guide. Visitors no longer need to go through a security check to enter the gardens. The hours of the garden and the Stag Moat are being expanded. You can see the hours here.

Groups can also once again see the cathedral, Old Royal Palace, and Golden Lane in mornings and evenings without crowds. The possibility of private tours had been canceled during the pandemic and is now being reintroduced. It costs CZK 1,000 per person with a minimum of CZK 10,000. The price includes a guide.  

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