P3 - Prague Castle & The Lesser Town

Tour duration: 4-6.5 hours according to your choice of sights  

The Prague Castle area, called “Hradčany”, represents a large area situated on the top of a hill above the Vltava river. In the ancient times there used to be a ford. This historic district has always been the noblest and most elegant part of Prague: the ruler used to reside there, the most important noble families of the kingdom built their lavish palaces close to his residence and also artists engaged by the royal court lived and worked in this area. Prague Castle has become an important district also for the Catholic Church: the Archbishop’s palace can be found there, as well as an important Baroque pilgrimage place - the Loreto Shrine. Strahov monastery with its unique library is also part of this area. The Prague Castle itself forms a complex of monuments confined within a Classicist palace, where the President has his office. On the courtyards of this palace you can find other monuments, some of which can be visited inside. It was on this elongated hill gently sloping down the Vltava River that the Czech capital was founded at the end of 9th century. “Hradčany” (the word “hrad” means “castle” in Czech) is therefore the oldest Prague district. The monuments there reflect more than thousand year’s history of Czech statehood. Almost all the architecture styles that originated in Europe in the past thousand years are represented there in harmonious unity. The Saint Vitus Cathedral naturally towers above the numerous monuments that surround it. Together they form individual jewels of a single uniquely beautiful necklace.
The Hradčany hill is a calm place with almost no traffic, so the tour there is a relaxing and quiet walk in lovely historic surroundings. We recommend this tour as an initiation meeting with the capital of the former Czech kingdom.

Malá Strana or the Lesser Town district is the second oldest one in Prague. It had been a gradually growing town on the foothill of the Prague Castle, on the left bank of the Vltava River, until a terrible fire burnt it down in 1541. After this catastrophe the entire royal town of Malá Strana had to be rebuilt from scratch again – and this is how the jewel of Baroque architecture, today´s Malá Strana, came into existence. Nowadays, we are proud of the exquisite Baroque palaces surrounded by historic gardens. This typical Baroque landscape is the key element of the extraordinary beauty of this district. Many of them became the seats of Embassies (e.g. the US embassy, the British Embassy). Two Lesser Town churches are especially famous for their Baroque style and decorations: Saint Nicolas Church represents an icon of the so called Dynamic Baroque, as well as the Church of Our Lady the Victorious. The latter houses a miraculous statuette of the Baby Jesus of Prague. Hidden corners of Lesser Town invite to romantic walks, one of them will lead us to Kampa Island with its charming millwheels. Or we can take a walk in the area near the so called Devil´s stream (Čertovka). This area is also known as the Prague Venice – little ships can enter into it and approach the former mill´s wheel. From Kampa you can take a staircase to one of the most emblematic sights of the city – The Charles Bridge.

Within the framework of this tour, accompanied by our guide, you can choose to visit the following sights:

  • The Strahov library – one of the world´s most beautiful historic libraries: you can visit two halls, one dedicated to theology and one to philosophy. Both halls host richly adorned Baroque libraries, astonishing frescos and impressive stucco ceilings. The oldest book deposited there is from the ninth century, a time when the Czech state hadn´t even existed..
  • The Prague Castle – the entrance ticket includes:
  • The Saint Vitus Cathedral – the main shrine of the country. Inside it shelters the most sacred place in the Czech lands – the Saint Wenceslas Chapel, a jewel of gothic architecture. Inside the cathedral you can also see the Baroque tomb of Saint John of Nepomuk, made of more than three tons of silver, or Art Nouveau window created by Alfonse Mucha.
  • The Royal Palace will catch your eye not only because of its graceful Late Gothic architecture and star vault, but also because of its Renaissance halls. One of them is the former Diet, another the Land Rolls Hall and finally the Bohemian Chancellery Hall famous for the act of defenestration.
  • Saint George´s Basilica – this Romanesque basilica from the 10th century is the embodiment of Middle Ages and one of the oldest churches in the entire Czech Lands. Saint Ludmila, the grandmother of Saint Wenceslas and the most honored patron of the Czech Lands is buried there.
  • The Golden Lane – Franz Kafka, the famous writer, definitely did not choose one of those colorful miniature houses as his residence randomly: the lane is one of the most picturesque places in Prague. Parts of medieval fortification have been preserved there too.
  • Saint Nicolas Church – One of the most representative churches in the Czech Republic, an icon of Dynamic Baroque. The church interior is richly decorated by frescos and statues. It houses an interesting selection of paintings by Karel Škréta, an important Czech baroque painter, and also an impressive baroque organ. You can climb up the Baroque balcony and have a close look at the largest European fresco (the apotheosis of Saint Nicolas).
  • Southern Gardens – are terrace gardens with pavilions and Baroque fountains.  A pathway down to The Lesser Town (Malá Strana) district leads down through these gardens. This tour can be completed at the entrance to them – the guide will tell you something about this charming green labyrinth before you enter it. You are going to leave the gardens by an exit situated very close to the main square of The Lesser Town – Malostranské square. The pathway out of the gardens will lead you right in front of the Valdštejnský palace, the seat of the Senate. Its own gardens with stunning views of the Prague Castle are also one of the most memorable sights for visitors of Prague. Note: In order to enter the Southern terrace gardens you have to pay a fee. The entrance to the Valdštejnský palace gardens is for free.

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Customer Feedback:
Thank you Jana for the excellent tour of Prague Castle and Jewish Quarter! You are the best! I enjoyed all the history you have shared. I also appreciate your flexibility during the lunch break. Thank you for being so gracious and hospitable! (Joseph D. Tariman; USA) * Thank you, Jana, for your wonderful history lessons. I wish I could remember all that you told us. You were a great guide. Best wishes. (Joan Welsh; Great Britain) * My wife and I made a a tailor made trip to Central Europe last Year that Prague Arts organized for Us. It was a wonderful experience. Everthing was excellent, more than expected. JANA was was either with Us or in close touch with Us to make sure everthing was going on as planned. (Jaime Benítez and Elvia, México) * On behalf of the Nursing Students of DePaul University, Chicago, we would like to thank-you for our wonderful guided tour through Prague Castle, Strahov Monastery, and the Jewish Quarter. You are so knowledgeable regarding so many areas: art, architecture, history, literature, and more-we learned so much! Likewise, we appreciated your advice on area restaurants and other exhibits, as well. We are most grateful for your expertise and can highly recommend you for other groups desiring a most competent and knowledgeable English-speaking guide.(Linda A. Graf, USA) * We also have just returned from a magical trip to Prague and having the use of Prague Arts Tour. Jana was an exceptional tour guide who made our trip to Prague all that more interesting and informative. After the tour we felt quite at home and we were able to explore the city with a firm understanding of the history of the city that we received from Jana. Prague Arts Tour and Jana are spot on. Thanks again Jana. (Margo and Guy from Canada) * Last September we toured the main cities of Central Europe with a bilingual group from Canada. During two weeks, Jana guided us through the different cities and buildings sharing with us her vast knowledge of art, history and daily life in her part of the world. We found her to be very professional at all times and eager to make sure everyone questions and worries were answered. She was flexible to the demands of the group and always tried to please everyone. She communicated clearly the daily activities in both languages and made us feel safe at all times. Jana's greatest asset is her love for her job and as a result she paints for you a picture of the beauty, opulence and the grandeur of these imperial cities. Her passion and professionalism made it all worthwhile. Thank you Jana. (Lise and Frank Loiocano; Canada)