It’s a castle or rather a castle complex located in Prague, Czech Republic. It was built in the 9th century. It is the official office of the President of the Czech Republic. No, its neither its age nor the occupant that makes this castle so peculiar. Do you know what makes this castle so popular worldwide?
Of course, this castle, popularly known as Prague Castle, is not an ordinary castle and it was a seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia.
According to Guinness Book of Records, it’s the largest ancient castle in the world. “It is an oblong irregular polygon with an average diameter of 128 m (420 ft), giving a total surface area of 7.28 hectares (18 acres),” says Guinness Book of Records. The castle is among the most visited tourist attractions in Prague attracting over 1.8 million visitors annually.
The castle complex was not built in one go but over a period of time. The Church of the Virgin Mary was the first building built in the complex in 870. In the first half of the 10th century, the Basilica of Saint George and the Basilica of St. Vitus were founded. The first convent in Bohemia was founded in the castle, next to the church of St. George. A Romanesque palace was erected here during the 12th century.
King Ottokar II of Bohemia improved fortifications and rebuilt the royal palace for the purposes of representation and housing. In the 14th century, under the reign of Charles IV the royal palace was rebuilt in Gothic style and the castle fortifications were strengthened. In place of rotunda and basilica of St. Vitus began building of a vast Gothic church, that were completed almost six centuries later. A large fire in 1541 destroyed large parts of the castle. The last major rebuilding of the castle was carried out by Empress Maria Theresa in the second half of the 18th century.
As the different structures were built at different times by different people, you can get to see virtually every architectural style of the last millennium. It includes Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, Romanesque Basilica of St. George, a monastery and several palaces, gardens and defense towers. The castle houses several museums, including the National Gallery collection of Bohemian baroque and mannerism art, exhibition dedicated to Czech history, Toy Museum and the picture gallery of Prague Castle, based on the collection of Rudolph II. The Summer Shakespeare Festival regularly takes place in the courtyard of Burgrave Palace.