Monday, July 28, 2014

Prague Castle and St. Vitus' Cathedral

After climbing all those steps for our high view of Prague, why not check out Prague Castle?

The castle itself is really a large complex of buildings, much like (largely disappointing) Dublin Castle. This fortified center of power was and is the center of Czech politics. The current government has offices here, and the ancient kings and bishops are buried here in the off-the-chain St. Vitus' Cathedral, standing tall in the castle grounds.

But first, enter the castle through the battling giants at the gate. See the Czech (red, white, and blue) and European Union (blue with yellow stars) flags flying, designating this as the official capital.

Prague Castle Gate
Prague Castle Gate

Just inside the gate, beyond the newer office buildings, is the old castle courtyard, absolutely dominated by the impressive fourteenth-century cathedral.

St. Vitus' Cathedral front side Prague
St. Vitus' Cathedral

This church, like many in its day, took a number of years centuries to complete. The church as it stands now was started in 1344 and finished in 1929 (!) but it was functional as a half-built but still very impressive cathedral for most of that time.

Its features are too detailed and too numerous to fully list here, but suffice it to say that it was an incredible sight to behold... And we didn't pay the entrance fee to see the whole church. Admission in the front door is free, but most of the church is behind a paid ticket line. After we saw the photo below...

St. Vitus' Cathedral Interior
St. Vitus' Cathedral Interior

...We didn't think it could be topped by anything that we could pay for. The tour includes some closeup looks at the unique works of art in the windows, wall carvings, and the tombs of ancient kings, emperors, and religious leaders.

The exterior of the church is free and equally awe-inspiring. The two halves of the church are divided front and back. The rear (altar) side of the church is the original Gothic design, with its architecturally-necessary buttresses holding up the central tower. The huge original entry door on this side of the church is now closed, as visitors and worshippers enter through the newer front entrance.

St. Vitus' Cathedral Buttresses
St. Vitus' Cathedral Buttresses

After exploring every free inch of the church, we explored more of the non-paid sights of Prague Castle. Because the complex is so large, we only had time to see a few more exteriors before we were hungry- and thirsty- again.

Kozel Beers in Prague
Kozel Beers

But after our afternoon repast, we would be back to Prague Castle after sunset to take the full Prague Castle self-guided tour- with no crowds and all the outdoor sights free to explore. That will be another post, but here's a teaser photo to give you a taste of our romantic nighttime stroll...

St. Vitus' Cathedral Buttresses at Night, Prague
St. Vitus' Cathedral Buttresses at Night

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