Prague (et al) – part 2: castles to rival the imagination

The castles in the Czech Republic may not have the notoriety of castles in the UK or Germany or France, but they are a must add to your travel itinerary.

Thee most well-known is the Prague Castle. Ironically the actual castle is a long, low somewhat staid building. The St. Vitus Cathedral that sits within the castle grounds is what gives the castle its iconic skyline – especially when it is lit up at night.

Prague Castle sitting above the Vltava River

Prague Castle sitting above the Vltava River

Prague Castle lit up at night

Prague Castle lit up at night

Construction on Prague Castle began around 880. This UNESCO Heritage site is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as being the largest ancient castle complex in the world – 70,000 square meters.

St. Vitus Cathedral is the largest gothic church in the Czech Republic. With detail and ornate accents to rival some of the greatest cathedrals in Europe. Within the castle are some unique chapels that have been created by royal figures throughout the years.

St. Vitus Cathedral, sits within the property of the Prague Castle

St. Vitus Cathedral, sits within the property of the Prague Castle

Gold mosaic inlays on the St. Vitus Cathedral

Gold mosaic inlays on the St. Vitus Cathedral

St. John of Nepomuk Chapel in St. Vitus Cathedral

This highly ornate chapel supposedly contains the remains St. John of Nepomuk, in St. Vitus Cathedral

Chapel in St. Vitus Chapel built by King Rudolf II - a proponent of Mannerist style showing incomplete pillars and a less ornate look

Chapel in St. Vitus Chapel built by King Rudolf II – a proponent of Mannerist style showing incomplete pillars and a less ornate look

One of my favorite spots in all my travels is the castle that sits in the idyllic setting of Pruhonicky Park, an hour subway and train ride outside of Prague. The castle itself dates back to the 1270’s, but the grounds were turned into a fairy tale land that stimulates the senses, back in the 1800’s. I could not stop taking pictures so I will let my pictures replace my words for the rest of this post.

Chateau at Pruhonicky Park

Chateau at Pruhonicky Park

My son, Mike, taking in the smells of the fragrant flowers that line the pathways

My son, Mike, taking in the smells of the fragrant vibrant colored flowers that line the pathways

Is it a picture or a painting? A picturesque stream running through Pruhonicky Park

Is it a picture or a painting? An idyllic setting for a romantic picnic along this stream running through Pruhonicky Park

I kept waiting for fairies to flitter out from the this fairy tale setting

I kept waiting for fairies to flutter out from  under the lush green canopies of the this fairy tale setting

More castles: Prague being a fairly small country, allows you to take short day trips to see many of the countries highlights including a couple of more castles.

State Cesky Krumlov Castle, located approx. 100 miles south of Prague on the Vltava River, is comprised of some 40 buildings

State Cesky Krumlov Castle, built in the 1200’s, is located approx. 100 miles south of Prague on the Vltava River, is comprised of some 40 buildings

Dobris Castle, this colorfully ornate newer 18th century castle is located approx. 40 miles southwest of Prague

Dobris Castle, this colorfully ornate newer 18th century castle is located approx. 40 miles southwest of Prague

Must dos and sees: Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the highlights of Prague and the Czech Republic. Try at least one of their home brews to accompany a plate of ghoulish and knedly. Bring a good camera to capture the ornate colorful architecture of the city and the castles that abound through the countryside. Most importantly, relax into the laid back attitude that surrounds you.