Prague Castle Official Website
What to See at Prague Castle
Prague Castle (Czech: Pražský hrad) is a castle complex in Prague, Czech Republic, dating from the 9th century. It is the official residence of the President of the Czech Republic. The castle was a seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia. The Bohemian Crown Jewels are kept within a hidden room inside the castle.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world, occupying an area of almost 70,000 square meters (750,000 square feet), at about 570 meters (1,870 feet) in length and an average of about 130 meters (430 feet) wide. The castle is among the most visited tourist attractions in Prague attracting over 1.8 million visitors annually.
The castle buildings represent virtually every architectural style of the last millennium. Prague Castle includes Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, Romanesque Basilica of St. George, a monastery and several palaces, gardens and defense towers. Most of the castle areas are open to tourists. 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.
The neighborhood around Prague Castle is called Hradčany... across the deer moat is Queen Anne's Summerhouse in the Royal Garden of Prague Castle.
Prague Castle Guard
The Prague Castle Guard or simply the Castle Guard (Czech: Hradní stráž) is a specific and autonomous unit of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic directly subordinate to the Military Office of the President of the Czech Republic. Its main task is to guard and defend the seat of the President of the Czech Republic at the Prague Castle.
The Lobkowicz Palace (Czech: Lobkowický palác) is a part of the Prague Castle complex in Prague, Czech Republic. It is the only privately owned building in the Prague Castle complex and houses the Lobkowicz Collections and Museum.
The palace was built in the second half of the 16th century by the Czech nobleman Jaroslav of Pernštejn (1528–1569) and completed by his brother, Vratislav of Pernštejn (1530–1582), the chancellor of the Czech Kingdom. It was opened to the public for the first time on April 2, 2007 as the Lobkowicz Palace Museum. Set in 22 galleries, the museum displays a selection of pieces from the Lobkowicz Collections, including works by artists such as Antonio Canaletto, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Lucas Cranach the Elder, and Diego Velázquez, as well as decorative art, military paraphernalia, musical instruments, and original scores of composers including Beethoven and Mozart.
Lobkowicz Palace was built in the second half of the 16th century by the Czech nobleman Jaroslav of Pernštejn (1528-1569) and completed by his brother, Vratislav of Pernštejn (1530–1582), the chancellor of the Czech Kingdom. Vratislav's wife, Maria Maximiliana Manrique de Lara y Mendoza, brought the Infant Jesus of Prague statue, thought to have healing powers, from her homeland of Spain to the Palace. The statue was later given by Vratislav and Maria Maximiliana's daughter, Polyxena (1566-1642), to the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Prague, where it remains on display as a popular tourist attraction. A replica of the Infant Jesus of Prague is on permanent display in the Lobkowicz Palace Museum.
The Palace came into the Lobkowicz family through the marriage of Polyxena to Zdeněk Vojtěch, 1st Prince Lobkowicz (1568-1628). In 1618, Protestant rebels threw the Catholic Imperial Ministers from the windows of the Royal Palace at Prague Castle, known as the Second Defenestration of Prague. Surviving the fall, the ministers took refuge in Lobkowicz Palace, where they were protected from further assault by Polyxena.
Following the defeat of the Protestant faction at the Battle of White Mountain in 1620, the Catholic Lobkowicz family grew in influence and power for the next three centuries. Lobkowicz Palace took on a more formal, imperial role and functioned as the Prague residence when the family needed to be present at the seat of Bohemian power for political and ceremonial purposes. With the exception of the 63 years (1939-2002) during which the property was confiscated and held by Nazi and then Communist authorities, the Palace has belonged to the Lobkowicz family.
After World War I, and the abolition of hereditary titles in 1918, Maximilian Lobkowicz (1888-1967), son of Ferdinand Zdenko, 10th Prince Lobkowicz (1858-1938), demonstrated his support for the fledgling First Republic of Czechoslovakia by making several rooms at the palace available to the government headed by Tomas G. Masaryk. In 1939, the occupying Nazi forces confiscated the Palace, along with all other Lobkowicz family properties. The Palace was returned in 1945, only to be seized again after the Communist takeover in 1948. For the next forty years, the Palace was used for a variety of purposes, including State offices and as a museum of Czech history.
After the Velvet Revolution of 1989 and the fall of the Communist government, President Václav Havel enacted a series of laws that allowed for the restitution of confiscated properties. Following a twelve-year restitution process, the palace returned to the ownership of the Lobkowicz family in 2002. On 2 April 2007, after four years of restoration and refurbishment, the palace was opened to the public for the first time as the Lobkowicz Palace Museum, home to one part of The Lobkowicz Collections. The 17th century baroque Concert Hall of the Lobkowicz Palace hosts regular concerts of classical music, and the premises are also used for weddings.
The oldest and largest privately owned art collection in the Czech Republic, the Lobkowicz Collection draws its significance from its comprehensive nature, reflecting the cultural, social, political and economic life of Central Europe for over seven centuries. In 1907, Max Dvořák, a prominent member of the Vienna School of Art History, created the first complete catalogue of The Collections. After the restitution laws in the early 1990s, the Lobkowicz family was able to reassemble most of the collection, subsequently making it available to the public for the first time.
While not as well known as the paintings, books and music associated with the Lobkowiczes, decorative and sacred arts objects, dating from the 13th through the 20th centuries, form a significant part of The Collections.
The Music Archive of the Lobkowicz Collection holds over 5,000 items. Originally housed in The Lobkowicz Library at the principal family seat of Roudnice Castle, the entire archive was confiscated, first by the Nazis in 1941, and again by the Communist regime, which sent it to the Museum of Czech Music. In October 1998, the Music Archive was returned to the family in its entirety and moved to Nelahozeves Castle under the auspices of the Roudnice-Lobkowicz Foundation.
Hunting was an important activity for Central European nobility from the late Renaissance period onwards, and all of the major Lobkowicz properties served as venues for hunting. Bearing witness to these hunting parties and their participants are hundreds of mounted trophies in the Lobkowicz Collections, dating from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. The social aspects of the hunt are also reflected in the numerous paintings and graphics by local artists in the collection, among them pictures of favorite horses, dogs and trophies. The central part of the hunting-related exhibitions, however, is the firearms themselves, which are displayed in two armoury rooms at Lobkowicz Palace, while further items from the collection are held at Nelahozeves Castle.
The hunting collection features a group of identical flintlock rifles produced for the Lobkowicz Militia in the 18th century, one of the largest collections of such items. Additional weapons came from Silesia, while the most elaborate 18th-century rifles and pistols (some in the Turkish manner) with mother-of-pearl inlay were produced in Vienna. Goldsmiths and silversmiths specializing in inlay were employed to decorate guns, rifles, crossbows and powder flasks of the finest quality.
Lobkowicz Collections o.p.s. also administers lending of artworks to exhibitions. Since 1993, over 200 works of art have been lent to museums in the Czech Republic and abroad, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, the Royal Academy of Art in London and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.
Old Royal Palace
The Old Royal Palace (Czech: Starý královský palác) is part of the Prague Castle, Czech Republic. Its history dates back to the 12th century and it is designed in the Gothic and Renaissance styles. Its Vladislav Hall is used for inaugurations, being the most important representative hall in the country. It is also home to a copy of the Czech crown.
Vladislav Hall is a large room within the Prague Castle complex in the Czech Republic, used for large public events of the Bohemian monarchy and the modern Czech state. Built between 1493–1502 by Benedikt Rejt during the reign of Vladislav II, the hall was the largest secular space (62m x 16m x 13m) in medieval Prague and is one of the most complex structural and architectural spaces of the late Middle Ages. In particular, the construction of the complex stone vaulting system, spanning 16m, was a refined engineering feat. The third and highest floor of the palace, the hall replaced a group of rooms dating from the 14th century. Immediately underneath, the second floor is a Gothic addition built during the reign of Charles IV in the 14th century, while the lowest, first floor is a Romanesque palace.
The hall was used for banquets, receptions, coronations, and other events of the Bohemian court. It was even large enough to accommodate tournaments between knights; the "Knight's Stairway" was built wide enough to accommodate horses to facilitate such activities.
Spanish Hall (Czech: Španělský sál) is a ceremonial hall in the New Royal Palace of Prague Castle. As part of the State Rooms it is intended for the reception of official guests of the President of the Czech Republic. Many important political and social events take place in the hall.
Spanish Hall was originally intended for the display of statuary collected by Emperor Rudolph II. The over-lifesize terracotta and stucco statues by Adriaen de Vries were exhibited in the niches in the southern wall. Later the hall was used for ceremonial court occasions (for example banquets or concerts). The hall was built in 1602–1606, perhaps by Italian architect Giovanni Maria Filippi. The walls were decorated with pilasters and Renaissance stucco reliefs, some of which have survived. A row of wooden columns in the centre of the hall supported a panelled coffer ceiling and underpinned the double span-roofs. In the early 18th century the original roofs were replaced by a new king-post roof during Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer's alternations. The height of the hall was raised by 2.5 meters and a row of smaller windows was added.
The hall was damaged during the Prussian bombardment of Prague Castle in 1757 and then was restored by Nicolò Pacassi who removed the central columns. In that time the niches in the southern wall were walled-up and the painter Norbert Kryštof Saeckel decorated them with illusive landscape views with ruins. In 1868 these paintings were covered with mirrors. In 1826 new toilets were installed between the Hall and neighbouring Rudolph Gallery. Both interiors were then rebuilt in 1865–1868 during the preparations for the Bohemian coronation of Emperor Francis Joseph I of Austria, which, however, never took place. The reconstruction was led by Viennese builder Ferdinand Kirschner to plans by architect Hans von Ferstel. The present relief decoration originated mostly in that time. Contrary to the Rudolphian freely modelled stucco it consists of plaster castings additionally fixed on the walls and the ceilings. The two shorter walls of the hall were designed and built in a wholly new way.
Spanish Hall measures 48 meters by 24 meters and 12 meters high. The two long walls have remained from the time of Rudolph II — with nine windows on the north side and the same number of niches of identical size on the south wall. The keystone above the central window bears the imperial monogram R with the Order of the Golden Fleece. The two shorter walls, with galleries, were built in 1860s and are decorated with sculptures of Art, Science, Trade and Industry by Auguste la Vigne. The gilded chandeliers and wall lights date from the late 19th century, and take over 2,000 electric light bulbs.
Golden Lane (Czech: Zlatá ulička) is a street situated in Prague Castle, Czech Republic. Originally built in the 16th century, to house Rudolf II's castle guards, it takes its name from the goldsmiths that lived there in the 17th century. Although the lane was temporarily called the Street of Alchemists or Alchemists' Alley, alchemists have never worked or lived there.
Golden Lane consists of small houses, painted in bright colours in the 1950s. The street originally had houses on both sides, but one side was demolished in the 19th century. Today the lane is a part of the small and big castle rings (i.e. a fee must be paid to enter), while there is free entry after the Prague Castle interiors close. Many of the houses are now souvenir shops, and there is a museum of medieval armoury within the former 14th-century fortification accessible from Golden Lane.
House number 22 used to belong to the sister of writer Franz Kafka, who used this house to write for approximately two years between 1916 and 1917. Jaroslav Seifert, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1984 and who was one of the signatories of Charter 77, lived there in 1929.
Golden Lane is connected with Dalibor Tower, which used to be a dungeon.
All Saints Church
Open during services and concerts
All Saints' Church is a chapel located in the Prague Castle complex in the Czech Republic. The site of the church was originally consecrated in 1185 and a Romanesque building built; the oldest parts of the current building date to a structure constructed by Peter Parler in the 14th century.
Although originally free-standing, the church was badly damaged in an 1541 fire which engulfed the palace and church. Through subsequent successive rebuildings and enlargements, the church became physically integrated with the palace, specifically Vladislav Hall.
The church holds the tomb of St. Procopius and his life is depicted on paintings on the walls. Although accessible from Vladislav Hall, the church is generally only open to the public during religious services and concerts.
Wrestling Titans (Czech: Sousoší Souboj Titánů), also known as Fighting Giants and Giants' Gate, is a pair of outdoor sculptures leading to the first courtyard of Prague Castle, in the Czech Republic.
The first courtyard is one of four at Prague Castle, in Prague, Czech Republic. Wrestling Titans is installed at the courtyard's entrance.
Matthias Gate, or Matthias' Gate, is a gate between the first and the second courtyards of Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic. It was erected by Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor in 1614.
The second courtyard is one of four at Prague Castle, in Prague, Czech Republic. It features Kohl's Fountain.
Kohl's Fountain is a fountain installed in the second courtyard of Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic.
The third courtyard is one of four at Prague Castle, in Prague, Czech Republic. It features St. Vitus Cathedral in St. George's Square, a statue of Saint George, and an obelisk.
St. George's Square
St. George's Square (Czech: Náměstí U Svatého Jiří) is located at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic.
St. Vitus Cathedral
The Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert (Czech: metropolitní katedrála svatého Víta, Václava a Vojtěcha) is a Roman Catholic metropolitan cathedral in Prague, the seat of the Archbishop of Prague. Until 1997, the cathedral was dedicated only to Saint Vitus, and is still commonly named only as St. Vitus Cathedral.
This cathedral is an prominent example of Gothic architecture and is the largest and most important church in the country. Located within Prague Castle and containing the tombs of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors, the cathedral is under the ownership of the Czech government as part of the Prague Castle complex. Cathedral dimensions are 124 by 60 meters (407 ft × 197 ft), the main tower is 96.5 meters (317 ft) high, front towers 82 meters (269 ft), arch height 33.2 meters (109 ft).
Treasury of St. Vitus Cathedral
The Treasury of St. Vitus Cathedral (Czech: Svatovítský poklad) is a collection of ecclesiastical treasures of the Prague Cathedral and is in the property of Prague Cathedral Chapter. It is the largest church treasury in the Czech Republic and one of the most extensive in Europe. The Treasure contains more than 400 items, 139 from them have been displayed since 2012 in a new exhibition in the Chapel of the Holy Rood in Prague Castle.
The Treasury includes many holy relics and reliquaries. Famous are the Sword of Saint Wenceslas or Coronation Cross of Bohemia. One of the oldest items in the Treasury is a relic of the arm of Saint Vitus, acquired by Czech Duke Wenceslas (Saint) in 929 from German king Henry the Fowler. Duke Wenceslas built a new church to preserve this relic in honor of Saint Vitus – today St. Vitus Cathedral. The Cathedral and its treasury was richly donated by many rulers, e. g. by Emperor Charles IV or King Vladislaus II.
St. George's Basilica
St. George's Basilica (Czech: Bazilika Sv. Jiří) is the oldest surviving church building within Prague Castle. The basilica was founded by Vratislaus I of Bohemia in 920. It is dedicated to Saint George.
The basilica was substantially enlarged in 973 with the addition of the Benedictine St. George's Abbey. It was rebuilt following a major fire in 1142. The Baroque façade dates from the late 17th century. A Gothic style chapel dedicated to Ludmila of Bohemia holds the tomb of the saint. The shrines of Vratislav and Boleslaus II of Bohemia are also in the basilica. The abbess of this community had the right to crown the Bohemian queens consort.
The building now houses the 19th century Bohemian Art Collection of National Gallery in Prague. It also serves as a concert hall.
Convent of Saint George
The Convent of Saint George was a Benedictine convent located in the Prague Castle in the Czech Republic. Founded in 973, the convent was next to the seat of ecclesiastical and state power in Bohemia and occasionally the entire Holy Roman Empire, and played an important historical role. Although no longer active, the convent's building and the attached Bascilica dedicated to Saint George still exist and the building houses the Czech National Gallery's collection of 19th-century Bohemian art.
Statue of Saint George
The statue of Saint George is an equestrian statue installed at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic.
The obelisk at Prague Castle is granite monolith and World War I memorial by Jože Plečnik, installed at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic.
The fourth courtyard is one of four at Prague Castle. It has an outdoor auditorium in which you can hear your voice amplified.
Statue of President Tomáš Masaryk
The statue of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk is a bronze sculpture installed at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic. The statue was supported by the Masaryk Democratic Movement [sic. it's a Constitutional Republic - not a democracy], and revealed on March 7, 2000 for Masaryk's 150th birthday anniversary.
Youth (Czech: Mládí) is an outdoor bronze sculpture of a naked boy with a golden penis by Miloš Zet, installed outside the Toy Museum inside Prague Castle.
Queen Anna's Summer Palace (Royal Garden)
"Letohrádek Královny Anny"
A beautiful Renaissance building in the Royal Gardens of the Prague Castle. Ferdinand I commissioned the summer palace, built on the eastern edge of the Royal Gardens between 1538 and 1560, for his wife Anna Jagiellon. Today the Summer Palace provides exhibition space for fine art and applied arts exhibitions.
Behind the Prague Castle walls, Ferdinand I established a royal (imperial) garden, in which he started to build a summer house in 1538 for his wife Anna of Jagiellon, who unfortunately did not live to see the completion of the building, as she died in 1547 after giving birth to her 15th child. Ferdinand I himself did not wait to see the house finished, and he left Prague after the fire in 1541.
Queen Anna’s Summer house (incorrectly called Belvedere) is the purest Renaissance architecture outside the Italian territory. It was built after a project and model of an Italian builder and stonemason Paolo della Stella in a style of Italian Renaissance by the builder Giovanni Spatio, who was succeeded by G. Maria del Pambio. Fire of the castle in 1541 interrupted the construction, which continued in the years 1548 - 1552 under the command of Paolo della Stella. He also carved out the stone reliefs on the gallery arcades. Stella decorated the summer house richly. The building is wreathed in 80cm high ornamental and figurative frieze; 36 pillars of the outside arcades have decorated Tuscan heads, there are 114 reliefs on the walls. They mostly depict scenes from mythology, hunting and wars. Among them, there is the figure of the founder Ferdinand I with the Order of the Golden Fleece on his chest, offering the lady - his wife, Queen Anna - a fig tree blossom. The stonework on the fine-grained sandstone is unbelievably fine.
In 1563, the summer house was completed by Hans Tirole and mainly Bonifác Wohlmut, who added the first floor. Unique copper roof shaped as a turned keel was then decorated by red and white stripes and painted symbols of the Bohemian kingdom. The ground floor with residential areas was surrounded by arcade gallery; there was a dance hall and a gallery on the first floor. The summer house was mostly used by Rudolf II, who established an astronomical observatory on the first floor. Among the guests, there were Tycho de Brahe, Johanes Kepler, and even the emperor himself, who died here after losing the royal title (1612). After his death, the summer house was abandoned and in 1648 it was plundered by the Swedish soldiers. The building was given different names throughout time: Belvedere for its beautiful view, Ferdinandeum after its founder, or Observatorium.
Joseph II gave the summer house to the army, which established an artillery laboratory there. In 1836, governor count Karel Chotek managed to evict the artillery, on the occasion of coronation of Ferdinand V. After that, the architects Bernard Grueber and Petr Nobile renewed the building in 1841 - 55 and modified it into a Picture gallery of the patriotic art lovers. A monumental Classicist staircase was built. In the years 1851 - 65, the cycle of historical scenes from Bohemian history was painted on the 1st floor walls, based upon drafts of the Academy director Kristián Ruben. The paintings were realized by his pupils Antonín Lhota, Josef Matyáš Trenkwald, Karel Svoboda and Emil Laufer. Architect Pavel Janák restored the summer house in the beginning of the 50s, and since then it has been used as an exhibition hall. Another reconstruction took place in 1988 - 1991.
In front of the summer house, there is the well known Singing fountain. The draft was made by the court painter Francesco Terzio. The Renaissance fountain was cast in the years 1564- 1568 by metal founder Tomáš Jaroš (the author of St. Vitus Cathedral’s largest bell - Sigismund). The material selected was bell-metal and bronze; the fountain is placed in the original position in the stone pool, where it was settled in 1573. Water drops falling on the rim of the lower bowl evoke lovely tones when you listen to them. The middle of the fountain depicts a shepherd and a Greek god Pan - protector of forests and streams. The top is furnished with a figure of a little piper (the only copy on an otherwise original fountain).
Summer Shakespeare Festival
The Summer Shakespeare Festival (Czech: Letní shakespearovské slavnosti, Slovak: Letné shakespearovské slávnosti) takes place in the courtyard of Burgrave Palace at Prague Castle. The festival was originally initiated by Václav Havel. The performances are also presented at Špilberk in Brno and at Bratislava Castle in Bratislava. The organizers closely cooperate with Martin Hilský, who translated most of the staged plays.
So far, the most acclaimed was the performance of King Lear in 2002. In 2004, director Martin Huba was selected for an ambitious project, a performance of Romeo and Juliet such as that one evening Capulets would be Slovaks and Monteks Czechs and the next day vice versa. The project failed, Huba said to the media that even though the dialogs translated by Ľubomír Feldek and Martin Hilský were perfect, they somehow did not fit together. In the end, the only Slovak-speaking character was the Nurse, performed by Emília Vášáryová.
Hradčany (Castle Town)
Hradčany (common Czech pronunciation: [ˈɦrat͡ʃanɪ]), the Castle District, is the district of the city of Prague, Czech Republic surrounding Prague Castle. Most of the Castle District consists of noble historical palaces. There are many other attractions for visitors: romantic nooks, peaceful places, and beautiful lookouts.
Hradčany was an independent borough until 1784, when the 4 independent boroughs that had formerly constituted Prague were proclaimed a single city. The other 3 districts were Malá Strana (Lesser Quarter), Staré Město (Old Town), and Nové Město (New Town).
The history of the castle began in 870 when its first walled building, the Church of the Virgin Mary, was built. The Basilica of Saint George and the Basilica of St. Vitus were founded under the reign of Vratislaus I, Duke of Bohemia and his son St. Wenceslas in the first half of the 10th century. 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.
During the Hussite Wars and the following decades, the castle was not inhabited. In 1485, King Ladislaus II Jagello began to rebuild the castle. The massive Vladislav Hall (built by Benedikt Rejt) was added to the Royal Palace. New defense towers were also built on the north side of the castle.
A large fire in 1541 destroyed large parts of the castle. Under the Habsburgs, some new buildings in Renaissance style were added. Ferdinand I built the Belvedere as a summer palace for his wife Anne. Rudolph II used Prague Castle as his main residence. He founded the northern wing of the palace, with the Spanish Hall, where his precious art collections were exhibited.
The Second Prague defenestration in 1618 began the Bohemian Revolt. During the subsequent wars, the Castle was damaged and dilapidated. Many works from the collection of Rudolph II were looted by Swedes in 1648, in the Battle of Prague (1648) which was the final act of the Thirty Years' War.
The last major rebuilding of the castle was carried out by Empress Maria Theresa in the second half of the 18th century. Following his abdication in 1848, and the succession of his nephew Franz Joseph to the throne, the former emperor Ferdinand I made Prague Castle his home.
In 1918, the castle became the seat of the president of the new Czechoslovak Republic, T.G. Masaryk. The New Royal Palace and the gardens were renovated by Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik. In this period the St. Vitus Cathedral was finished (on September 28, 1929). Renovations continued in 1936 under Plečnik's successor Pavel Janák.
On March 15, 1939, shortly after the Nazi Germany forced Czech President Emil Hacha (who suffered a heart attack during the negotiations) to hand his nation over to the Germans, Adolf Hitler spent a night in the Prague Castle, "proudly surveying his new possession." During the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in World War II, Prague Castle became the headquarters of Reinhard Heydrich, the Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia. He was said to have placed the Bohemian crown on his head; old legends say an usurper who places the crown on his head is doomed to die within a year. Less than a year after assuming power, on May 27, 1942, Heydrich was attacked during Operation Anthropoid, by British-trained Slovak and Czech soldiers while on his way to the Castle, and died of his wounds (which became infected) a week later.
After the liberation of Czechoslovakia and the coup in 1948, the Castle housed the offices of the communist Czechoslovak government. After Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the castle became the seat of the Head of State of the new Czech Republic. Similar to what Masaryk did with Plečnik, president Václav Havel commissioned Bořek Šípek to be the architect of post-communism Prague Castle's necessary improvements, in particular of the facelift of the castle's gallery of paintings.
Deer Moat around the Prague Castle
The deep natural gulch that surrounds the Prague Castle got its name after the deers, that used to be kept there since the 16 th century. It is spanned by a big Powder Bridge from 1770, which connects the Royal Garden on one side with the Prague Castle on the other side.
Animals Raised in the Deer Moat
Originally, the purpose of the Deer Moat was to protect the Prague Castle. In the middle ages, there were vineyards on the southern slope of the moat. The deers were raised there from the end of the 16th century until 1740s and it was also used for hunting. In 1741-42 all the deer were shot by the French army that occupied Prague.
The Emperor Rudolph II kept lions in the Deer Moat in the 16th century, as a symbol of the Bohemian Kingdom (a lion is pictured on the Bohemian national emblem).
There used to be a wooden Powder Bridge over the Deer Moat since 1534, then it was replaced by stone dyke in 1770. It probably got its name after the Powder Tower nearby. It divided the gulch to Upper Deer Moat and Lower Deer Moat.
Secret Shelter of the Communist Representatives
The Deer Moat is open to the public, and various cultural events take place there in the summer. During the Communist era, the pavements disappeared from the Deer Moat, because it wasn´t accessible to public. Thanks to that, there are many kinds of animals still preserved there nowadays. A secret subterranean shelter for the representatives of the Communist regime was built deep in the hillside of the Deer Moat.
Werewolf in the Deer Moat
There is a legend about a werewolf from the Deer Moat, that goes back to the era of Rudolph II. in the 16 th century. A man called Jan used to take care of the Emperor´s predatory animals and most of all of his two wolves. He was mute, but learned to howl as a wolf and one day he disappeared. Suddenly, a new big wolf was found in the Deer Moat, even the Emperor himself came to see him. The wolf's behaviour was strange and people were afraid of him, because his eyes resembled Jan's eyes. Nowadays, the legend advises not to walk through the Deer Moat in the night, the werewolf is dangerous for dogs and for people moving quickly.
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