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Why Visit the Czech Republic?

The Czech Republic is a spectacular vacation destination offering volumes of reasons for visiting.  The country's rich history and culture in addition to its natural beauty makes it a very desirable destination for visitors from around the globe.  People come to experience the charm of well-preserved towns, romantic castles, chateaus, palaces and parks, and to simply enjoy the delectable cuisine. 

The Czech Republic offers vacations for every budget with an excellent exchange rate for many currencies.  The country is easily accessed from many European countries, enjoying an ideal location in the heart of Europe.  There are numerable UNESCO World Heritage sites in the nation and many easy day trips available from Prague.  The Czech Republic has colorful, festive traditions and folk customs and boasts world-famous beer and delightful wines from the Bohemian and Moravian regions.

There are over 2000 castles in the Czech Republic and a plethora of churches, monasteries, religious sites and medieval towns.  Various times of the year, the cities hold cultural and film festivals, and dynamic music and art activities.  Czech spas and wellness programs offer unique venues and the Czech people are vivacious and enthusiastic to their visitors.  The country offers a safe environment and promises to please lovers of stunning art and unique and elaborate architecture.

Although the Czech Republic is relatively small in size, it is endowed with abundant natural beauty and a rich and intriguing culture.  Even entire towns can give the impression of being comprehensive artifacts.

Top 10 Attractions in Prague

The history of Prague begins with its Castle, founded by Prince Bořivoj in the 9th century.  Situated high above the Vltava River, the buildings enclosed by the Castle include a palace, a monastery and three churches.  A town called Hradčany in part of the Castle's outer wall.  Over the centuries, the Castle has been rebuilt numerous times.  After a fire in 1541, many damaged buildings were reconstructed in Renaissance style.  Since 1918, the Castle has been the seat of the current president of the Czech Republic.  Changing of the Guard takes place every hour with the noon ceremony being most elaborate.  According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the Prague Castle is the largest coherent castle complex in the world, with an area of almost 70,000 square meters.  Prague Castle is the most popular sight visited in Prague.  It is the largest ancient castle in the world being 570 meters long, on average 128 meters wide covering an area of 7.28 hectares.

Construction on this cathedral, Prague's most distinctive landmark, began in 1344 on orders of John of Luxembourg.  Frenchman Matthew of Arras was the first architect.  Swabian Peter Parler took over after the death of Matthew.  Work continued on the cathedral until the Hussite Wars.  Construction was finally completed by 19th and 20th century artists and architects.  Currently, St. Vitus's Cathedral houses the tomb of Good King Wenceslas along with the crown jewels.  Inside the church, visitors see thousands of years of history, saintly relics, and works from Renaissance paintings to modern sculpture.  One most notable feature is the richly decorated, jewel-encrusted St. Wenceslas Chapel.

Old Town and its central square make up the heart of Prague.  As early as the year 1091, in what is now called Old Town Square, the first marketplace appeared in the city.  Many houses and churches sprang up around the square, many of which still exist today.  The area gained privileges as a town in 1338 and at that time hosted a Town Hall.  This hall and other famous buildings such as the Municipal House and the Clam-Gallas Palace reflect the importance of Old Town.  Designated as pedestrian only with the exception of a few horse-drawn carriages, Old Town Square ranks among the most exquisite public spaces in any city.  In summertime, cafe tables fill the cobblestone streets and draw thousands of visitors from around the world.  Some of the most notable attractions around Old Town Square include the Astronomical Clock on the exterior of the Town Hall, the Church of St. Nicholas, Church of Our Lady before Týn, the Jan Huus Monument, Kinský Palace, the Church of St. Gall, and the famous Melantrichova Passage.  The square has always been a busy focal point and today offers a tourist information center as well as numbers of cafes, restaurants, galleries and retail shops. 

Prague's most familiar landmark connects the Old Town with the Little Quarter.  Now pedestrianized, the bridge at one time could hold four carriages abreast.  Due to gradual deterioration, the statues along the bridge have been replaced with copies.  The originals are still in existence and are kept in the Lapidarium of the National Museum and at Vyšehrad.  The gothic Old Town Bridge Tower at the end of the bridge is one of the finest buildings of its kind in existence.  The famous statues on the bridge include St. Wenceslas, Christ between St. Cosmas and St. Damian, St. John de Matha, St. Felix de Valois and the Blessed Ivan, St. Vitus, St. Adalbert, St. Philip Benizi, St. Luitgard, St. Cajetan, St. Augustine, St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Procopius, St. Jude Thaddaeus, St. Francis of Assisi with two angels, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Ludmilla, St. Norbert, St. Wensceslas and St. Sigmund, St. Francis Borgia, St. John the Baptist, St. Christopher, St. Cyril and St. Methodius, St. Francis Xavier, St. Ann, St. Joseph, the 17th Century Crucifixion, the Pieta, St. Barbara, St. Margaret and St. Elizabeth, and the Madonna and St. Bernard.  Until 1741, Charles Bridge was the only crossing point over the Vltava.

The National Gallery in Prague (Czech: Národní galerie v Praze) is a state-owned art gallery in Prague.  It is housed in different locations within the city, the largest being the Veletržní Palác.  Its history dates back to the 18th century, when a group of prominent representatives of Bohemia's patriotic aristocracy and enlightened middle-class intellectuals decided to elevate what they called "debased artistic taste" of the local population.  The gallery is broken down in the following structure and locations:

Collection of Old Masters:

Sternberg Palace

St Agnes' Convent

Schwarzenberg palace

Collection of 19th Century Art:

St George's Convent

Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art:

Veletržní Palace

House at the Black Madonna

Collection of Oriental Art:

Kinský palace

For over 300 years, this remarkable site was the solitary burial ground permitted for Jews to use.  Founded in 1478, it has been slightly enlarged over the years, but still remains the size it was in medieval times.  Due to lack of space, people were buried on top of one another and graves were 12 layers deep.  There are over 12,000 graves crammed into this tiny cemetery and an estimated 100,000 people are buried here.  The last burial took place in 1787 of a man named Moses Beck.  From the late 16th century, tombstones in the Jewish cemetery were decorated with carved symbols depicting the profession of the deceased or the family name.  For example, a pair of scissors indicated the profession of a tailor.  Grapes were used as a symbol of abundance.  The Cohen family's symbol were two hands depicting a blessing.  The most visited tomb in the cemetery is that of Rabbi Low (1520-1609).  Visitors lay pebbles and stones atop his grave as a mark of respect. The oldest tomb is that of writer Rabbi Avigdor Kara from 1439.

Constructed in 1626, the Loreto has played an important role in pilgrimage. Commissioned by Katerina von Lobkowicz, a Czech aristocrat, the church was created to promote the legend of Santa Casa of Loreto.  In the heart of the cloisters is a copy of the house believed to be the original house where the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary to foretell of the birth of Jesus in the small Italian town of Loreto.  The Santa Casa replica was enclosed by cloisters in 1661.  The elaborate design and the miraculous stories about the Loreto were a part of Ferdinand II's campaign to re-Catholicize the Czechs.  The large Baroque bell tower hosts a set of 30 bells cast in 1691 in Amsterdam.  The 17th century cloisters, covered with frescoes, were originally built as a shelter for many pilgrims who visited the site.

The most prominent landmark on Petrin Hill is the miniature Eiffel Tower which was built for the Jubilee Exhibition of 1891.  The Petrin Tower is only 200 feet tall which is a quarter of the height of the original Eiffel Tower in Paris.  A spiral staircase of 299 steps leads up to a viewing platform with spectacular views of Prague.  On a clear day, it is possible to see as far as Bohemia's highest peak in the Krkonoše Mountains.  Petrin Park hosts a series of attractions including a mirror maze which intrigue children, containing walls lined with distorting mirrors.  This is a relic left over from the 1891 Exhibition.  The Church of St. Lawrence is nearby.  There is the famous Hunger Wall named such for giving employment to the poor during a period of famine, a funicular railway, the Museum of Music, and the Michna Palace, a summer estate built for the Kinsky family on the site of an old Dominican convent.  Today, a path winds up to Petrin Park offering great vistas of the city.  Also in the park is the famous Monument to the Victims of Communism built in 2002 by sculptor Olbram Zoubek and a monument to romantic poet Karel Hynek Mácha.

This famous square has been the center of many key events in recent Czech history.  It was here that student Jan Palach burnt himself to death in 1969, and it was here in November 1989, where a protest rally against police brutality led to the events of the Velvet Revolution and the ultimate overthrow of Communism.  Calling this are a "square" is something of a misnomer for it is 825 yards long and 65 yards wide.  Originally a horse market, today it is lined with trendy Western shops, hotels, restaurants, and clubs.  The square is adorned with a huge equestrian statue in front of the National Museum, of St. Wenceslas, erected in 1912.  Cast in bronze, this remarkable sculpture is the work of Josef Myselbek, leading Czech sculptor of the 19th century.  Several other statues of Czech patron saints sit at the foot of the pedestal.  Near the statue, is a memorial commemorating the victims of the former regime.  Notable attractions near St. Wenceslas Square include the Church of Our Lady of the Snows, the Franciscan Garden, Hotel Europa, National Museum, the State Opera, and the Mucha Museum.

This convent was founded in 1234 by Agnes, sister of King Wensceslas, and originally called convent of the Poor Clares.  She was not canonized until 1989.  This convent was later abolished in 1782 and fell into great disrepair.  After long and tedious restorations in the 1960's, it has now been restored to its original beauty and is currently used by the National Gallery to display medieval art from Central Europe and Bohemia.  Notable features include its cloisters which date from the 14th century and a painted panel called the Annunciation of Our Lady, created in 1350, one of the oldest and finest works in the museum.

Top 10 Museums and Galleries in Prague

The vast collection of the National Gallery contains a large number of Czech and Slovak paintings and sculptures, including works by Gutfreund, Kupka, Fila, Benes and Bohumil Kubišta.  The international collection includes numerous works by artists such as Picasso, Rodin, Gauguin, Cézanne, Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir and Klimt.

The main building is closed for reconstruction.

The main museum building is located on the upper end of Wenceslas Square and was built by prominent Czech neo-renaissance architect Josef Schulz and completed in 1890. The entrance to the museum is reached by a ramp that is decorated with allegorical statues.  The rich marble interior of the museum is a very impressive scene.  According to their website, the National Museum at present contains several million items of material concerning the areas of mineralogy, paleontology, mycology, botany, entomology, zoology, anthropology, and also archeology which is mostly concerned with the period from Neolithic times to the 10th century CE.

Among the most valued departments of the museum are:

  • The Department of Prehistory and Protohistory – Contains an extremely rich collection of artifacts which were used daily thousands of years ago.  The curators of this collection were also among the first Czech archeologists: J.L. Pic, curator of one of the collection from 1893-1911 is credited with conducting the first system archeological field exploration in Czechoslovakia.  The department also maintains collections in the field of classical archeology.  However, its main value is in the documentation of Greek and Roman arts and crafts.  Among its most valuable objects are a painted dish of Nikosthenes, a glass bottle from the port of Puteolo, and a gilded silver rhyton.
  • The Department of Classical Archeology – Beginning where protohistory leaves off, this department has assembled a numerous amount of objects which trace the development of Czechoslovakia.  This is done through the acquisition of objects which recall outstanding figures of Czech culture and leadership, in addition to those objects used in times of distress.  Part of the Medieval collection is dedicated to weapons used in the Hussite movement of the 15th century.  In addition to their historical value, many of the objects held by this department contain a high artistic value.  Examples include a silver tiara from the 12th century; Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque jewelry; liturgical objects from the Medieval period, which include the reliquary of St. Eligius in the shape of a mitre; Gothic and Renaissance glazed tiles and paving stones; precious embroidered Rosenberg antependium dating from the second half of the 14th century, and fine Bohemian porcelain and glass from the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Department of Ethnography – The goal of this department is to gather, in a systemic manner, factual material and data about the history and culture of the people of Czechoslovakia and the other nations of Europe, from the end of the 17th century to the present day.  Much of the focus is placed on Slavic nations.  The oldest ethnographic collections of the National Museum were inherited from the Jubilee Exhibition of 1891, with the result being that much of the focus has shifted to the past half-century, and the collections of the department are filled with simple wood and ceramic objects, which show the gradual shift from a rural society to one that has become increasingly urbanized.
  • Department of Numismatics – Among the oldest departments in the Museum, it was founded through the gift of Count Sternberk.  The focus of this department is to achieve a complete collection of legal tender coins used in past and present day Czechoslovakia.  Also, the department has a great amount of foreign coin collections, the most valuable of these being a collection of coins of classical antiquity.  Along with collecting coins, the department maintains a large collection of medals.  At present, the National Museum contains approximately half a million objects.
  • Department of Theater – Originally part of the National Museum Library, it was set up as a separate entity in 1930.  Its first collections were primarily drawn from the archives of two theaters: the National Theater and the theater Vinohardy.  In the following years, the collections were greatly expanded by the department's founder, Jan Bartos, and his successor, Joseph Knap.  The department today contains extensive exhibits on the history of theater in Czechoslovakia, costume designs by prominent Czech artists, music, memorabilia, and items from the Czech puppet theater.  The collections primarily contain stagecraft items from the middle of the 19th century to the present day, with efforts being made to enlarge the department’s exhibits from the 18th century.

Home of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the Rudolfinum is one of the most striking landmarks on the Old Town bank of the Vltava River.  Many of the Prague Spring music concerts are held here as there are several lovely concert halls.  The most beautiful of these halls is the famous Dvořák Hall ranking among the finest creations of 19th century Czech architecture.  Built between 1876 and 1884, the building was designed by Josef Zitek and Josef Schulz.  The Rudolfinum derives its name from Crown Prince Rudolph of Habsburg, its namesake.  Much like the National Theater, the Rudolfinum is an excellent example of Czech Neo-renaissance style architecture.  It is noted for its gorgeous curving balustrade decorated with statues of famous Czech, Austrian and German artists and composers.  The Rudolfinum is also known for another name, the "House of Artists" because the building houses the Gallerie Rudolfinum consisting of a collection of modern art.  Also of historical interest, the Rudolfinum was used for a brief time after WWII, as the seat of the Czechoslovak parliament.

Na Porici 52
Florenc, Prague 8
Czech Republic

The Prague City Museum houses multiple historical artifacts, documents, weapons and maps documenting the history of Prague from prehistory through the 6th century with the arrival of the Slavik people. The most notable item for visitors to view is a huge cardboard model of the city created between 1826-1834 by Antonín Langweil, who was a servant at the National Museum.   The detail is of this item is meticulously accurate depicting exact replicas of windows and doorways. The other amazing thing about this model is that it shows historical development of Old Town, Lesser Town and the Prague Castle prior to the way the city looked at the end of the 19th century.  Also, the heart of Prague is shown in great detail as it appeared over 150 years ago. 

On a historical note of humanity and the roots of Old Prague, the exhibits at this museum educates the visitor as to where Prague's first inhabitants came from, how they dressed, where they resided, their farms, their habits, and how they viewed themselves in the world.  The museum includes depictions of hundreds of old buildings in the Jewish Quarter also. 

The main concept taken away from a visit here is that Prague's historical center has remained much the same over time.  It is a gem and a time capsule of history and architectural beauty.

A museum dedicated to the life and works of famous Czech composer Bedřich Smetana (1824-1884), the Smetana Museum resides beside the Vltava.  Smetana is considered by many to be the father of Czech music.  Built in the Renaissance style, the building, formerly owned by the Prague Water Company, has been home to the Smetana Museum since 1936.  The first floor holds documents, letters, scores and musical instruments used during the composer's life.  The upper floors provide a center for research.  Visitors are able to listen to parts of the composer's works here.

Credit: http://www.muzeumkomunismu.cz/

This museum focuses on the totalitarian regime from the February coup in 1948 to its rapid collapse in November 1989.  The theme of the Museum is "Communism- the Dream, the Reality, and the Nightmare" and visitors are treated to a fully immersive experience. Immersive factories, a historical schoolroom, an Interrogation Room, and the video clips in the Television Time Machine are all part of the experience.  The museum is a great introduction before you step back even further in time and experience the wonders of The Golden City.

This is the first museum in Prague (since the Velvet Revolution) exclusively devoted to a system established in the sphere of the former Soviet Union.  The original items and meticulous installations containing authentic artifacts are displayed in the three main rooms.

The Museum presents a vivid account of Communism, focusing generally on Czechoslovakia and particularly on Prague in a variety of areas, such as:

  • daily life
  • politics
  • history
  • sport
  • economics
  • education
  • the arts“ (such as the so-called Socialist Realism movement)
  • media propaganda
  • the Peoples’ Militias
  • the army
  • the police (including the dreaded secret STB apparatus)
  • censorship
  • judiciary and coercive institutions (including the Stalinist show-trials and political labor camps)

This museum is one of Jewish heritage.  At the establishment of the Jewish Museum in Prague in 1906 were historians Dr. Hugo Lieben and Dr. Augustin Stein, the representative of the Czech Jewish movement and later head of the Prague Jewish Community.  The original aim of this museum was to preserve valuable artifacts from the Prague synagogues that had been demolished during the reconstruction of the Jewish Town at the beginning of the 20th century.  The Museum was however closed to the public after the Nazi occupation of Bohemia and Moravia on March 15, 1939.  In 1942, the Nazis established the Central Jewish Museum, to which were shipped artifacts from all the liquidated Jewish communities and synagogues of Bohemia and Moravia.  Its founding was proposed by Dr. Stein who, in cooperation with other specialist members of staff, sought to save the Jewish objects that were being confiscated by the Nazis. Following long negotiations, the Nazis approved the project to set up a central museum, albeit guided by different motives than the Museum´s founders.

After World War II, the Jewish Museum came under the administration of the Council of Jewish Communities in Czechoslovakia.  In 1950, ownership was transferred to the State, which, as of 1948, was in the hands of the Communists.  As a result, the Museum was markedly restricted in its preservation, exhibition and educational activities.  The collapse of the Communist regime in 1989 created the necessary conditions that led to a change in the Museum´s status.  On October 1, 1994, the Museum buildings and collections were returned to the Jewish Community of Prague and the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic respectively.  At the same time, the Jewish Museum took on new life as a non-state organization.

Founded in 1885, the museum's collections were originally housed in the Rudolfinum.  The current building done in French Neo-Renaissance style was completed in 1901.  This museum is home to one of the world's largest glass collections.  However, only a fraction of it is on display at any one time.  The most outstanding display is that of the Bohemian glass of which there are many fine Baroque and 19th and 20th century creations.  Medieval and Venetian Renaissance glass also have a large presence.  Among other permanent collections are Meissen porcelain, Gobelin tapestries, textiles, photography, and printing.  There is also an exquisite Renaissance furniture display.  On the mezzanine are temporary exhibits and an art library consisting of more than 100,000 publications.

This museum holds a fascinating collection of vintage cars, motor cycles and steam engines.  Early flying machines are suspended overhead.  Other displays trace the history of sciences such as electronics.  Visitors have an opportunity to tour a reconstructed coal mine.  Also housed on site is an excellent exhibit about astronomy.

Built in the 16th century, this synagogue was originally a private house of prayer for Mayor Mordechai Maisel and his family.  Maisel made his fortune lending money to Emperor Rudolph II to finance wars against the Turks and his synagogue was the most elaborately decorated in the entire city.  Destroyed by fire in1689, a new synagogue was built in its place.  Since the 1960's the Maisel Synagogue has held a substantial collection of Jewish silver and other metalwork dating from Renaissance times to the 20th century.  The collection includes many Torah crowns and finials.  There are also such objects as wedding plates, lamps and candlesticks.  Interestingly, nearly all of these Jewish treasures were brought to Prague by the Nazis from synagogues in Moravia and Bohemia with the intention of creating a museum of a vanished people.

Top 10 Places of Worship in Prague

St. Vitus's Cathedral is the most important and the largest church in Prague.  Situated at the Prague Castle, it is a burial place of many former Czech Kings.  The Czech Crown Jewels and a large treasure are kept here.  St. Vitus's Cathedral has two parts: the Gothic eastern tract with the main tower, built in the 14th and 15th centuries, and the western neo-Gothic part with two spires, built in the 19th century and at the turn of the 20th century.

The Loreto in Prague was constructed in 1626 when it replaced several houses that were left abandoned after the Battle of White Mountain in 1620.  Finishing the church took quite a few years.  The construction started with the Holy Stable, the central building of the Loreto, representing the legendary stable in which Saint Mary supposedly lived in Nazareth.  The sculptures as we can see them today were added to the church only after 1640.

The Stable in the center of the church was gradually surrounded by a two-storey cloister. In each corner there was a chapel.  In 1735, Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, one of the most prominent architects in Prague at that time, replaced the central chapel in the east wing with a Church to the Nativity of the Lord.

One of the most attractive parts of the Loreto is the treasury where many liturgical objects and jewels dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries have been preserved.

This basilica predates St. Vitus's Cathedral being founded by Prince Vratislav (915-21).  It is the most well-preserved Romanesque church in Prague.  This basilica was enlarged in 973 when the adjoining St. George's Convent was established.  After a fire in 1142, the basilica was rebuilt.  The large twin towers have been extensively restored to keep the basilica in its original appearance.  The widow of the 9th century ruler Prince Bořivoj, Ludmilla is buried inside.  She became Bohemia's first female Christian martyr.  Also, other members of the Přemyslid dynasty are buried here.

Lesser Town church of St. Thomas in Letenska Street was built in the Gothic style on the foundation of an older, probably Romanesque church.  Its presbytery was consecrated in 1315 and then the entire church in 1379.  When the Hussite riots destroyed the church, it was rebuilt in 1584-1592 by Augustinian solitaires with the participation of Bernard di Alberto.  This reconstruction in Renaissance style was completed at the beginning of the 17th century.  The recent Baroque style of this church originated with another reconstruction in 1727-1731, and was designed by Kilián Ignác Dientzenhofer.  The church is an integral part of the Augustinian convent (house number 28).  During the reign of Rudolph II, St. Thomas's developed strong links with the Imperial Court and several prominent members of Rudolph's entourage are buried here.

The tall slim octagonal pyramidal roof of the church steeple is one of the typical silhouettes of Lesser Town.  It is hard to overlook this steeple from many different directions not only for its certain atypical look but also for its height, which is 62 m.  In the past, the gothic steeple had features of a later Baroque reconstruction such as ellipse-shaped and circular windows or corner pilasters.  Today, the English-speaking Catholic community of Prague meets in this church.

The Church of St. Nicholas, one of the most recognizable landmarks in Old Town, dominates and divides the two sections of Little Quarter Square.  Construction here began in 1703 and the last brush strokes were put on the majestic frescoed nave in 1761.  Franz Palko's fresco, the Celebration of the Holy Trinity, fills the 230 ft high dome.  A copper statue of St. Nicholas surmounts the high altar.  The church was designed and created by famous Bavarian father and son team Christoph and Kilian Ignaz Dientzenhofer, in the High Baroque style.  Sadly, neither man lived to see the completed edifice.  The paintings, frescoes and sculptures on the interior are by leading artists of the day.  One of the most prized pieces of art in St. Nicholas' today is a crucifixion by Karel Škréta made dated 1646.  The church underwent extensive renovation in the 1950's due to two centuries of leaks and condensation.

Constructed in 1270, this synagogue is the oldest in Europe and one of the earliest Gothic buildings in Prague.  This synagogue has survived many troubling times, including fires, the slum clearances in the 1800's and multiple Jewish pogroms.  This synagogue has been a safe haven for residents of the Jewish Quarter through the years and today is still the religious center for Prague's Jews.  There is also a legend concerning Rabbi Low and the Golem which surrounds the Old New Synagogue.  Rabbi Low, scholar and philosopher, and Director of the Talmudic school which studied the Torah in the late 16th century was believed to have magical powers.  He was thought to have created a clay figure called the Golem, and brought it to life by placing a magical stone tablet inside its mouth.  The Golem got out of control and the Rabbi was forced to remove the tablet.  The clay creature was later hidden in the rafters of the Old New Synagogue.  Rabbi Low's old wooden chair is on display in the interior.

This church, begun in 1365, dominates Old Town Square, and  boasts magnificent steeples in the Gothic style.  From the early 15th century until 1620, Tyn was the primary Hussite church in Prague.  George of Poděbrady, the Hussite king, took Utraquist communion in this church and used a gold chalice.  The form of a chalice, the Utraquist symbol, was then mounted on the facade.  After 1621, the chalice was melted down to help form the Madonna statue that replaced it.  The entrance portal on the north side of the church is beautifully decorated with scenes from Christ's passion.  Notable interior features include a 15th century Gothic pulpit and a pewter font built in 1414.  Behind the church is the Tyn courtyard done in various architectural styles.   

This attractive church built in the Baroque style was originally used as a Gothic presbytery of a Minorite monastery.  An order belonging to the Franciscans was invited to Prague by King Wenceslas I in the year 1232.  Prague Old Town was built at about the same time.  The church was first built in the Gothic style and became a funeral place for Czech kings.  After a terrible fire started by the French during their occupation of Prague in 1689, the church was rebuilt in the Baroque style by architect J. S. Panek.  At that time, over 20 side altars were installed and decorated with fine works of famous painters.  Contributing artists include Jiří Heinsch (1647–1712), Peter Brandl (1668-1735), and Václav Vavřinec Reiner (1689-1743).  There is a story related to the Virgin Mary statue at the main altar of this church.  It was believed to be a  miraculous statue and people donated gifts to the statue over time.  A thief once wanted to steal the gifts, but the statue grasped his hand and he couldn´t get out.  He was found there in the morning.  Nobody was able to disengage his hand, so it had to be cut off.  Then the statue dropped the hand spontaneously.  The Minorites hanged the hand on the wall as a warning and it can still be seen there, withered and blackened.  The most valuable work of art is the Baroque tombstone of the Supreme Bohemian Chancellor Jan Vaclav Vratislav of Mitrovice from 1714 – 1716, designed by Viennese architect J. B. Fischer of Erlach.  There is a horrifying story related to the tomb.  The chancellor wasn´t really dead when he was buried there and he awoke in a coffin.  People could hear him banging on the tombstone, but they thought it is some supernatural phenomenon and they just sprinkled the place with a holy water.  Nobody ever thought to open the crypt.  The chancellor died there several days later.  Another person was buried in the tomb after few years and when the monks opened it, they found the chancellor´s coffin wrecked and Jan V. V. of Mitrovice lying aside, with a look of horror on his face.  Due to the church's long nave, the acoustics are exquisite and many recitals and concerts are held here.  The magnificent organ dates from 1702.

The monastery was founded in 1347 for the Croatian Benedictines, who conducted religious services in the Old Slavonic language, hence its name Na Slovanech.  The site has changed hands multiple times due to Prague's volatile religious history.  A Hussite order was established here in 1446, and later in 1635, the monastery was acquired by Spanish Benedictines.  In the 18th century, the monastery was converted entirely to Baroque style, but then again, in 1880, it was taken over by German Benedictines who rebuilt almost all of the architecture to Neo-Gothic style.  Through the centuries, some very important 14th century paintings have been preserved and still hang in the cloisters.  However, many items were damaged in World War II.  In fact, both the monastery and the church were almost completely destroyed in an American air raid in 1945.

This church, the icon of Vyšehrad, boasts two Neo-Gothic steeples designed by František Mikeš and erected in 1903.  The church was originally founded at the end of the 11th century by Vratislav II and later enlarged in 1129.  In the mid 13th century, it burned down and was replaced by an Early Gothic church.  Since that time, it has been rebuilt, and restored many times in several different styles.  It was finally rebuilt in Neo-Gothic style in 1885.  Notable feature include the early 12th-century stone coffin of St. Longinus and a mid-14th-century Gothic panel painting called Our Lady of the Rains on the altar of the third chapel on the right.  The basilica features an impressive stone mosaic above its entry.  Behind the church is located Vyšehrad cemetery, the final resting place of many famous Czechs.

Top 10 Palaces and Gardens in Prague

There are seven gardens surrounding Prague Castle.  The Royal Garden is historically the most treasured of them.  Originally a Renaissance garden, with some beautiful pieces of architecture inspired by Italian influences, it used to be a place where the king and his family relaxed, played games and raised exotic plants.  There is an exceptional Renaissance building called the Royal Summer Residence, the Royal Ball Game Hall and some valuable Renaissance and Baroque sculptures and fountains.  The gardens were redesigned in the 19th century but still retain much of their original character.  Famous statues include the pair of Baroque lions built in 1730 who guard the entrance.

The Belvedere is the jewel of the Royal Garden.  It is a prime example of Italian Renaissance.  Upon seeing its arcades, Ionic columns and reliefs depicting mythology, wars as well as scenes from hunts, it is evident why this building is considered the most beautiful example of Renaissance north of the Alps.  It was meant to be a gift for Queen Anne from her loving husband Ferdinand I of Hapsburg.  Sadly, the beloved queen died during her fifteenth childbearing.  The royal couple thus could not enjoy the beauty of the building but they were immortalized in its decorations – one relief shows the king as he presents Anne with a flower.  The keel-shaped roof is also noteworthy.  It was originally painted red and white and decorated with signs symbolizing the Czech kingdom.  The palace was most widely used at the time of Rudolph II.  Not only did he convert the first floor into an observatory, where one could meet famous astronomers such as Tycho Brahe or Johannes Kepler, but he also installed a part of his artistic collections there.  He certainly would not have done it, had he known, that the place was doomed to dilapidation and, what is even worse, to plundering of Swedish troops during the Thirty Years’ War.  Some of the stolen objects are now placed in French Louvre.

The original Palace was built in years 1623-1630 by Albrecht von Wallenstein, Duke of Mecklenburg (1583-1634), who made his name and fortune as the Commander-in-Chief of the Imperial forces in the Thirty Years War.  To obtain a suitable site, he had to purchase 23 houses and three gardens.  The magnificent main hall rises to a height of two stories tall with a ceiling fresco depicting Wallenstein himself as Mars, the God of War, riding in a triumphal chariot.  Emperor Ferdinand II however, feared Albrecht of Wallenstein’s calculating mind and had him assassinated in 1634.  His widow sold it to his nephew and it remained in the Wallenstein family until 1945.  After World War II, the palace became Czechoslovak state property and was renovated to house government offices.  Today, the Senate of the Czech Republic operates out of the main palace buildings.  The Riding School is used to display art as a branch of the National Gallery in Prague.  The challenging restoration of the main building began in mid-1999.  The most valuable parts of this building in historical and artistic terms are the Main Hall, the Knights' Hall, the Antechamber, the Audience Hall and the Mythological and Astronomical Corridors.

Located in Mala Strana, or the Lesser Quarter, the Wallenstein Garden is a gorgeously manicured garden with lush greenery, shaped hedges, a large pond with a islet featuring a marble fountain of Hercules, statues representing heroes from Greek mythology, an aviary, peacocks to feed and even an Italian grotto with artificial stalactites.  The garden is conveniently located behind the Malostranska Metro entrance and is open to the public from April to October.  It is the perfect place to sit and relax in the midst of some hectic sightseeing in the center of the city.  The garden belongs to the Wallenstein Palace, which is today the seat of the Czech Senate, and was built together with the palace (1623-30) in the early Baroque style with many influences from the Italian Renaissance, as the owner Count Wallenstein studied in Padua, Italy.  Many statues that you will find in the garden are copies, as the Swedes plundered the originals as war booty in 1648 during the Thirty Years’ War.  The most beautiful area of the garden is where you will find the Sala Terrena, an impressive formal room decorated with frescoes depicting the Trojan Wars with the arcade open to the garden.  The Sala Terrena is often used for classical concerts and theater performance.  The Wallenstein Garden is a space that no lover of architecture or sculpture should miss but which will surely be appreciated by anyone who desires to escape from the rush of Prague for a few moments.

The Ledebour Garden is situated in the Lesser Quarter on the south side of Prague Castle. It is a spectacular Baroque terrace garden built in the Italian style.  The garden dates back to the 17th century when Jan Václav Kolowrat had it built in 1665.  A few decades later the spacious sala terrena was built though it is not clear who built it.  It may have been Giovanni Santini, Giovanni Battista Alliprandi or František Maxmilián Kaňka.  The paintings inside the sala terrena are the works of Václav Vavřinec Reiner.

No one looked after the Ledebour garden properly since the middle of the 19th century until 1990s - when basically all gardens around Prague Castle were thoroughly renovated The garden was left to decay, but have now been restored to their original beauty.

The Kinsky Palace was built in 1755 - 1765 by Anselmo Lurago or K. I. Dientzenhofer.  It has a Rococo facade, but the architecture itself is still Baroque.  The front of the palace is decorated with allegoric sculptures of four elements and Antique gods.  This decoration was damaged at the end of World War II in 1945, so there are replicas in place today.  The interior of the Kinsky Palace was redecorated in Empire style in the 1830s.  The palace was originally a residence of Count Goltz.  After his death in 1768 it was bought by Count Frantisek Oldrich Kinsky, hence the name of the building.

Kinsky Palace at the Old Town Square, also called the Goltz – Kinsky Palace, is regarded as the most beautiful Rococo building in Prague.  Franz Kafka used to attend a grammar school ere at the turn of the 20 th century and later it became an exhibition space of the National Gallery in Prague.  The exhibition of landscape in Czech art from 17 th to the 20 th century is situated here.

The Vrtba Garden (Vrtbovská zahrada) in Lesser Town dates back to the beginning of the 18th century.  This Italian-style terraced Baroque garden is a quiet oasis in the center of the city and one of the most beautiful gardens in Prague.  The best time to visit is in the spring and summer when the flowers are in bloom.  The Vrtba Garden is an architectonically unique complex of precisely designed flower beds and large staircases that are adorned with statues of ancient Roman gods and goddesses.  The fact that the garden lies on a slope makes it attractive for yet another reason - the exquisite view of Lesser Town from the viewpoint on the top of the garden.  The Vrtbovská zahrada underwent eight years of restorations in the 1990s and was opened to the public in 1998.

The oldest botanic garden in the Czech Republic, it was founded by Charles IV in the 14th century.  The garden was originally in the Smichov quarter but was moved to the current site in 1898 as it was frequently flooded when the river Vltava overflowed.  The huge greenhouses date from 1938.  Special botanical exhibitions and shows of exotic birds and tropical fish are often held here.  One special feature of the gardens is the giant water lily, whose enormous leaves can support the weight of a small child.

Kampa Island near Charles Bridge is one of the most delightful places in Prague, with picturesque houses and a tranquil waterside park.  It is a good place to spend an evening walking by the river Vltava and enjoying the special atmosphere of the place.  Kampa Island is separated from Prague Lesser Town by the river arm Devil´s Stream.  It is probably named after the house “At the Seven Devils” nearby.  There is a particularly attractive part of Kampa with houses standing right by the river.  It is nicknamed The Venice of Prague.  Until the 16 th century, there were only mills and gardens at the Kampa Island.  It was often threatened by floods.  Four mills are still preserved there, the biggest mill-wheel being eight meters large in diameter.

Top 10 Chateaux and Manors in CR

Founded in the early 12th century, Poděbrady Chateau, was originally a fortress on a limestone rock overlooking the Elbe River.  This chateau was ranked among the royal estates during the reign of Přemysl Otakar II.  A stone castle was built here at that time and used as a residence by Kings and their entire courts.  The castle was one of a number of strategic places on the Elbe whose purpose was to defend Prague against enemy attacks from the east and the northeast.  The castle was later rebuilt completely and fortified during the 14th and in the early 15th century and its moats were widened.  At one point, it was renovated in the Renaissance style during the reign of the Emperor Ferdinand I in the late 16th century.  He had it converted into a summer hunting palace.  The last private owners was the family of Hohenlohe of Schillingsfürst (1885 to 1912).  The present appearance of the chateau is therefore the result of several reconstructions - from a water castle, a medieval fortress and a Renaissance royal seat, up to a Late Baroque building intended to fulfill military purposes during the reign of Josef II.

Built in the early 13th century, the original castle was built in the Early Gothic style by Prague Bishop Tobiaš on the model of a French castellum with a rectangular plan and round towers protruding from the corners, making the most effective defense possible.  Renaissance and Baroque reconstruction changed the castle into a grand stately home.  At the end of the 19th century it was refurbished in the Romantic style for Franz Ferdinand d´Este, successor to the Habsburg throne and famous for his death in 1914 which acted as a precursor for the beginning of WWI.  The chateau can be visited as a day trip from Prague.  The chateau offers a fine display of furniture, tapestries, sculptures, paintings and a a large collection of over 300,000 hunting trophies.  A baroque rose garden and a greenhouse also flank the house. 

Accounts show that the Benešévic family from nearby Benešov were the owners in 1318, and that in 1327 the castle passed into the hands of the Šternberks.  In 1468 it was conquered by the troops of George of Poděbrady after a siege that lasted almost two years.  In 1603, the estate was purchased by Dorota Hodějovská of Hodějov, who made Renaissance alterations to the old gothic fortification.  The Hodějovský family fortified their property because of their active participation in the anti-Habsburg rebellion in 1620. Albrecht von Waldstein acquired the castle and after him it was passed to Adam Michna of Vacínov.  Michna gained notoriety through his repression of the serfs, who revolted against him and conquered Konopiště in 1627.  The Swedes occupied and plundered Konopiště in 1648, and the Vrtba family then purchased the dilapidated structure.

After 1725 they had it transformed in a Baroque style château.  The drawbridge was replaced by a stone bridge, and near the east tower a new entrance was inserted in the wall.  The gate which embellished it was designed by František Maxmilián Kaňka and featured statues from the workshop of Matthias Bernard Braun.  In 1746, the upper levels of four of the towers were destroyed and one tower was completely demolished.  During repair of the interiors, mythological and allegorical frescoes were painted on the ceilings of the great hall and marble fireplaces with carved decorations by Lazar Wildmann were created.  Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria bought Konopiště in 1887, with his inheritance from the last reigning Duke of Modena and had it repaired between 1889 and 1894 by the architect Josef Mocker into a luxurious residence, suitable to the future Emperor; which he preferred to his official residence in Vienna.  The extensive English-style park, with terraces, a rose garden and statues, was established at the same time.

He invited William II, German Emperor to see his roses early in June 1914; insofar as they discussed politics, they discussed Romania, but conspiracy theories about their planning an attack on Serbia or a division of the Austro-Hungarian Empire arose at the time and since.  After the Archduke's assassination, later in the month, the memory of this visit may have moved the Emperor to give Austria more rein in dealing with Serbia than he had in the Bosnian crisis of 1909.  Since 1921, the castle has been property of the Czechoslovak and later Czech state, one of 90 such in state ownership.  The Ministry of Culture is said to spend more than US$ 800,000 per year to maintain the castle, and recovers about as much from entrance ticket sales and rental for occasional functions.

The romantic chateau Lednice is situated on the extensive natural area of the embankment of the river Dyj near Mikulov city in the eastern part of Czech Republic called Moravia.  There was originally a Gothic fortified settlement, built in 1222, which Prince Přemysl donated to the Lichtenstein family.  Lednice had been their residential place until the end of World War II with one short break.  In the 16th century the settlement was rebuilt into a Renaissance chateau.  In the late 17th century the Viennese architect J.B.Fischer rebuilt it in the Baroque style.  The Neo-Gothic reconstruction in the Tudor style from 1846-1858 gave the recent outlooks to the chateau.  The designer of the reconstruction was Jiří Wingelmüller.  Baroque walls remained mostly preserved, facades got a new face, many new architectural elements were added, such as battlements, balconies, parlors, chimneys, little spires and others.  Also the interiors got a Romantic Neo-Gothic outlook with rich wood carvings.  Besides the chateau, there is the Agricultural Museum with a unique head of a mammoth.

The Valtice Chateau is situated at the place of the castle of the Passau bishop from the late 12th century.  In 1395 the Lichtenstein family also bought this place, rebuilt the castle several times and in the 16th century the castle was rebuilt in the style of Mannerism.  During the Thirty Years War the Swedish military forces damaged the chateau several times and the damaged objects were later completely rebuilt into the recent Baroque residence.  The reconstruction lasted up to 1730 and several renowned artists of that time , such as J.B.Fischer of Erlach, A. Ern and J.K.Ern, D.Martinelli and others, participated in it.

The Lichtenstein family had been creating a unified landscape complex from the two chateaus for centuries.  Between the two residences an alley was planted.  The Lednice Chateau complex was complemented by ostentatious buildings of the riding-school, a minaret in the Moorish style by architect Josef Hardtmuth and a glasshouse reminiscent of the model of the London winter garden.  In the 19th century in the period of Romanticism, the Lednice-Valtice complex got the recent outlook.  In the English park several Romantic buildings were built, such as The Apollo´s Temple, the Temple of the Three Graces in the Empire style, and at the former Czech-Austrian border the Border Chateau.  In 1996, the Lednice-Valtice complex was included in the UNESCO list of the world cultural and natural heritage sites.

The distance from Prague to Lednice is 275 kilometers.

Hluboka Chateau is regarded as one of the most beautiful stately homes in Bohemia.  It is situated 15 km from Ceske Budejovice, the capital of southern Bohemia and the home of famous Budweiser Bier (Budvar).  It is also 150 km from Prague.  Hluboka is a monumental Romantic chateau - originally a Gothic castle, remodeled in the Baroque style in 18th century.  Later it underwent a significant transformation in the 19th century when it was remodeled in the English Windsor-style Gothic into the official seat of the Schwarzenberg dynasty.  The complex includes a glassed-in winter garden, a riding hall, an English park and a chapel.  Sumptuously furnished period interiors feature unique woodcarvings and valuable collections.  The castle is opened to public and the English style park surrounding the chateau is open to the public for a fee from April to October..  There is a winter garden and riding-hall where the Southern Bohemian gallery exhibitions have been housed since 1956.  The castle has been used in a scene of Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson's Shanghai Knights.

Jemniště is a small village in Central Bohemia between Vlašim and Benešov, about 40 km southeast of Prague.  Jemniště is a Baroque chateau built according to a design by F.M. Kaňka for František Adam of Trautmansdorf at the beginning of the 18th century.  After a 1754 fire, it was renovated in the Rococo style.  Complemented by an English park, the historical interiors feature period furnishings and collections from the 17th through the 19th century (the chateau salons, the dancing hall, the knights‘ halls with Gothic decorations).  The Chapel of St. Joseph features decorations by V.V. Reiner. F.A. Scheffler, and M.B. Braun.  The castle complex includes stables.

Troja Palace is one of the most stunning summer palaces in Prague.  The chateau was built in the late 17th century by Jean-Baptist Mathey for Count Sternberg.  Situated at the foot of the Vltava Heights, the exterior of the chateau was designed after a classical Italian villa, while its elaborate garden was laid out in formal French style.  These were the first Baroque French style formal gardens in Bohemia.  The gardens boast a geometric network of paths, fountains, statuary and unique terracotta urns.  There are also two orangeries on the premises.  The ornate interior took over 20 years to complete and is overflowing with decorative frescoes depicting the Sternberg family's devotion to the Habsburg dynasty.  Inside the chateau is a great collection of 19th century art.  The palace is now owned by the city of Prague and hosts the 19th century Czech art collections of the City Gallery.

The chateau, one of the foremost Baroque castles in the Czech Republic, was built for František Ferdinand Kinský from 1721-1723.  Its plans were drawn by Jan Santini Aichel, one of the main baroque architects of Italian origin.  Construction was completed in time for King Charles VI's coronation.  František Ferdinand Kinský invited the king to the chateau and named the castle after the king (Karlova Koruna means Charles' crown in English).  The basic architectural design was drafted by Jan Santini Aichel.  The details of the building process can be attributed to František Maxmilián Kaňka.  The manor's design reveals one of the most noteworthy manor dispositions created in the Czech lands.  The central high cylindrical body of the building is occupied by a three storied main hall to which a triad of residential side wings is connected.  Due to this, the manor does not need passages and its external appearance changes as the observer walks around it.  The ground floor has a round central hall and the rooms which it opens onto are dedicated to family exhibition.  The many paintings of horses on display are a reflection this family’s long-lasting passion for horse-breeding.  The second floor, which can be reached by a monumental external staircase, has a magnificent round ballroom which leads to further rooms housing the collection of family and horse paintings.  Facing the castle are two buildings formerly inhabited by the family and one which was used as a covered riding hall for training horses.  The Castle is surrounded by a 40-acre park with rare specimens, an example of a French/English baroque garden and there is an orangery in the southern part.  A chapel, dedicated to St. Ann, stands next to the Chateau.

The Dacice Chateau is located in the area of Bohemia close to the attractive city of Ceske Budejovice, home to Czech Budvar.  The chateau’s neo classicist façade is complemented by a robin’s egg blue color and features the above-mentioned neo Classicist façade from the last renovation that was finished around 1930.  The originally Renaissance palace was built in 1591 by Oldřich Krajíř of Krajek, inspired by the Northern Italian Renaissance.  The palace was built according to the grand palaces that graced the gentle rolling hills of Italy at the time.  The palace was renovated several times, due not only to architectural trends but also due to some raging fires that occurred inside the palace.  The palace has an impressive collection of table clocks, graphics, china, earthenware, glassware and a beautiful butterfly collection.

The eastern Bohemian town of Litomyšl emerged in the 13th century on the site of an older fortified settlement on the Trstenice path, an important trading route linking Bohemia and Moravia.  There has been a settlement since at least the 10th century at Litomyšl with its fortified core on the hill where the castle now stands.

Litomyšl Castle is an outstanding and immaculately preserved example of the arcade castle, a type of building first developed in Italy and modified in the Czech lands to create an evolved form of special architectural quality.  It illustrates, in an exceptional way, the aristocratic residences of central Europe in the Renaissance and their subsequent development under the influence of new artistic movements.

There is known to have been a small church dedicated to St Clement on this site, and a  monastery was founded in the town in the first half of the 12th century.  The monastery was closed when the bishopric was created in 1344, its buildings being shared out between the bishop and the chapter.  The document of 1398 relating to this partition contains the first reference to an "old palace" and castle at Litomyšl.  Archaeological and historical investigations have revealed remnants of the medieval structure beneath and within the Renaissance castle.

In 1425, the town was conquered after a siege by the Hussites, who razed all the ecclesiastical buildings to the ground.  Restoration was undertaken at the end of the Hussite Wars by the new owners of Litomyšl, the Kostka family of Postupice, and details of this building have also been shown by recent investigations.  It was damaged by fire in 1460 and again in 1546; after the second fire, the castle was confiscated by the king, but it was almost completely gutted after a third fire, in 1560.

The ruined structure was granted in 1567 to the Vratislav family of Pernštejn, who received a royal grant to reconstruct it.  Work began in 1568 under the supervision of Jan Baptista Avostalis (Giovanni Battista Avostalli), who was joined by his brother Oldřich (Ulrico).  Most of the work had been completed by 1580.

A fire in 1635 caused only slight damage to the upper storey of the castle and this was quickly repaired.  The architect František Maximilián Kaňka was responsible for considerable modifications from 1719 onwards in the High Baroque style.  Fire struck yet again in 1775, and the repairs involved some renovations.  Major alterations took place in the interior in 1792-96, to the designs of Jan Kryštof Habich, but he was careful to preserve the fine Renaissance gables.  Since that time there have been no changes of any consequence in the structure, design, or decoration of the castle.

The first courtyard formed part of the original fortified settlement.  The buildings associated with it were all built or rebuilt during the course of the modifications that the castle underwent over time, and this is reflected in their architectural styles

Of the features in the interior of the castle one of the most striking is the fine neoclassical theatre from 1796-97 in the western wing. Constructed entirely of wood, it can seat 150 spectators in nine loggias and its lower floor.  The original painted decoration of the auditorium, stage decorations, and stage machinery have survived intact.  The Renaissance main staircase of the castle is located in this wing, which houses some finely proportioned Renaissance rooms decorated for the most part in neoclassical style in the 18th century.  The other two wings have comparable interiors, basically Renaissance in form and with lavish late Baroque or neoclassical ornamentation in the form of elaborate plasterwork and wall and ceiling paintings.  The paintings simulate three-dimensional compositions with ornamental mouldings from Roman antiquity.

Among the ancillary buildings, the most interesting is the Brewery, which lies to the south of the first courtyard.  Originally constructed as a counterpart to the castle, it was substantially reconstructed after the 1728 fire and received what is its present appearance, which blends elements of high Baroque and neoclassicism, after the 1775 fire.

This Renaissance chateau was originally a medieval castle.  It was rebuilt to its present look in the 16th century by its owners, the Lords of Žerotín.  In the castle, are unique exhibition of tapestries, valuable paintings and furniture.  Around the chateau chapel and the library are beautiful fresco decorations.  Adjacent to the chateau is an English-style park and a French-style garden.

Of the original Gothic castle built in the second half of the 13th century, only a cylindrical defense tower of stone remains.  The Gothic style of the building, still seen in places on the stonework, was replaced with Baroque, apparent in the chateau chapel, and interior decorations.  The legacy of the Renaissance can be seen above all in the courtyard.

The present form of the chateau was influenced mainly by Jan Starsi of Zerotin, who had the original castle from 1578 adapted in the style of Italian Renaissance buildings, probably according to a plan by architect Gialdi.  The reconstruction of the chateau began with the chapel, evident in its pointed windows with tracery in the Gothic-Renaissance style.  In the second half of the 18th century, in the Haugwitz period, the remaining bastions and walls were destroyed, and the moat was filled in and the original drawbridge was replaced with a stone bridge of three spans.

The entrance to the chateau is decorated by a portal with the emblem of the Zerotins, a Latin date of the reconstruction placed above it.  Visitors can enjoy the second courtyard with porticos and a fountain complete with a statue of Neptune.  The Renaissance portico, open on all floors, is formed by three lines of columns with Tuscan, Ionic and Corinthian heads, emblems with garlands, rosettes, musical instruments, dragons, nymphs and other decorations.  The St.Wenceslas chapel with a Baroque altarpiece, is decorated with paintings and statues stemming from the abolished Capuchin monastery.  Other notable features include the library with barrel vaulting and frescos featuring motives from the Cupid and Psyche tale and an allegory of human qualities.  This decoration has been ascribed to Italian painter Carpoforo Tencalla.

Until 1945, the chateau belonged to the Haugwitzs.  Afterwards, it served as a summer seat of President Edvard Benes.  Now it hosts a permanent exhibition of tapestries dating from the period between the late 16th century and the middle of the 19th century.

Concerts of classical and popular music, depicting music from the beginning of the 19th century, are still being held in the chateau´s library and courtyard.

Top 10 Castles in the CR

Špilberk Castle has dominated the skyline of Brno for over seven hundred years.  Today, it is a highly visited destination, but there have been times in the history of Brno when the fortress inspired fear, and represented oppression for the citizens of Brno.  Over the course of the centuries, the importance of Špilberk and the part it has played have changed considerably.  From a major royal castle and the seat of the Moravian margraves, it gradually turned into a huge baroque fortress, the heaviest prison in the Austro-Hungarian empire called the "dungeon of the nations“, and later a barracks. Today, Špilberk Castle houses its 40th year of the Brno City Museum, and is one of the most significant cultural centers in Brno.  It was certified as a national heritage monument in 1962.  In the summer season, the castle courtyards and other premises come alive with various cultural events including concerts, theater performances and historical shows, as well as sports competitions.  Over 100,000 people visit the museum exhibitions annually.

Located just 35 km from Olomouc, Bouzov Castle is one of the most visited castles in the Czech Republic.  The castle was initially constructed as a Gothic stronghold in the early 14th century.  In the 15th century, fortifications were enlarged and strengthened, and in the 16th and 17th centuries the castle was made into a residence.  It was rebuilt in the Romantic style by the Habsburg Archduke Eugene into a summer seat of the Teutonic Knights at the turn of the 19th and 20th century.  The castle is said to be the birthplace of the Czech King George of Podebrady.  It is a perfect example of a medieval castle, lavishly decorated with luxuries of the times.  Romantic interiors with rich painting and carving decoration of local folk artists are furnished with period furniture.  Many films have been made here.  There is a lovely park around the castle.  Bouzov castle is now considered one of the most popular and most visited monuments in the Czech Republic. The castle has been the place of several fairy tales, including Arabela, Fantaghirò, and Before the Fall.

Built in 1241, the Gothic castle Český Šternberg is considered one of the best preserved castles in the Czech Republic.  Constructed on a high rocky promontory above the river Sázava by Zdeslav of Divišov’s, it was given the name Sternberg after his coat of arms, bearing the golden star.  The Gothic appearance of the castle was changed by several reconstructions, especially the interior which is now more in Baroque or Rococo style.  The official tour leads through 15 rooms, richly furnished mostly with stylish furniture, valuable paintings and carpets.  Visitors can see a unique collection of 545 copper engravings depicting the entire history of the Thirty Years’ War, and also a collection of historic weapons, art porcelain, hunting trophies, and many other attractions.  During the season there are thousands of tourists, who come here to use hiking and biking trails. Today the castle is owned by the Sternberg family.  The castle in open from April to October.  It is situated only about 40km from Prague.

Since 1777, the Kroměříž Castle, had been the principal residence of the bishops and archbishops of Olomouc.  The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497.   The building was designed in a Late Gothic style, with a some Renaissance detail.  During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was destroyed by the Swedish army in 1643.  It was not until 1664 that a bishop from the powerful Liechtenstein family hired architect Filiberto Lucchese to renovate the palace in a Baroque style.  The primary attraction built by Lucchese's in Kroměříž is the Pleasure Garden in front of the castle.  Upon Lucchese's death in 1666, Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed his work on the formal garden and had the palace rebuilt in a style reminiscent of the Turinese school to which he belonged.

After the castle was gutted by a major fire in March 1752, Bishop Hamilton commissioned two leading imperial artists, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Josef Stern, to decorate the halls of the palace with their works.  In addition to their paintings, the palace still houses a notable art collection, considered to be the second finest in the Czech Republic.  One of the most significant works is Titian's last mythological painting, The Flaying of Marsyas.  The largest part of the collection was acquired by Bishop Karel in Cologne in 1673.  The palace also contains an exquisite musical archive and a library of 33,000 volumes.

Kroměříž  is now listed by UNESCO among the World Heritage Sites.  The castle is a good example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe.  The Pleasure Garden is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden.  Apart from the formal areas, there is also a less formal 19th century English garden, still standing even after the floods of 1997.

Interiors of the palace have been used by Miloš Forman as a substitute for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during the filming of Amadeus in 1984, based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž.  The main audience chamber has also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.

Pernštejn Castle, hidden in the forests of the eastern edge of the Bohemia-Moravia highlands, is one of the most preserved castles in the Czech Republic.  It has been mentioned in historical records as early as the late 13th century.  It was the seat of the lords of Pernštejn who for centuries played a vital role in the politics of the Czech kingdom.  It is situated on the cliff above the city Nedvedice.  The castle has been in existence for almost eight centuries and throughout its history has never been conquered.  Its majestic towers can be seen from the far away. From the Pernštejn Castle there is an outstanding view of the surrounding forests.  Its present appearance results from the late Gothic transformations the castle underwent between 1450 and 1550.  It came to be known as the "marble" castle because of the marble-like local stone used to frame the doors and windows.  The same material was used for the late Gothic church of nearby Doubravník which contains the family vault.  As with other beautiful castles in the Czech Republic, this one changed ownership multiple times.  
Modified significantly in the 16th century, the castle is frequently used for filming stories about fairytales and various movies from middle-age times.  Unlike those other structures, however, it was not extensively remodeled or updated and still holds many of its original elements.

The defensive system of Pernštejn Castle includes a tower linked to the inner palace with a suspended walkway that gives the structure an atmosphere of intrigue.  Ancient legends surrounding the castle, such as stories about ghostly beings, increase the level of mystery surrounding it.  Pernstejn is open only during the summer.  Visitors have a choice of five tours that last from just under an hour to almost an hour and a half.  Rooms that boast their period decorations can be seen during the tours.

Founded in 1348, by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor-elect and King of Bohemia.  Karlštejn Castle is a large Gothic castle and one of the most frequently visited castles in the Czech Republic.  The castle served as a place for safekeeping the Imperial Regalia as well as the Bohemian/Czech crown jewels, holy relics, and other royal treasures.  It is located about 30 km southwest of Prague above a town of the same name.

It is considered one of the most beautiful castles in the Czech Republic.  There is a beautiful national forest surrounding the castle which offers numerous hiking trails.  There is also a 70-minute tour option that visits additional rooms, including the Chapel of the Holy Cross. 

The first time Charles IV resided in the castle is documented in 1355 when he came to oversee the building construction as well as the decoration of the interior rooms, especially the castle chapels.  The construction of the castle was finished in 1365 when the Chapel of the Holy Cross was consecrated.

The castle was reconstructed in late Gothic style after 1480 and in Renaissance style in the last part of the 16th century.  The present appearance of the castle comes from the latest reconstruction, which was done in the puristic neo-Gothic style by architect Josef Mocker at the late 1800's.

A most remarkable feature is the original step-like order of buildings.  From the Well tower and Burgrave's palace located as the lowest level, one can walk up to the regal five-floored Imperial palace and further up towards the Marian tower.  Finally at the top of the headland stands, the monumental and fortified Great tower stands tall.

A very significant attraction is the original decoration of wall paintings dating back to the 14th century, a collection of 129 panel paintings by Master Theodoric in the Chapel of the Holy Cross (the largest if its kind), the largest portrait gallery of Czech rulers in the country, a stunning replica of the crown of the Holy Roman Emperors, and the St. Wenceslas crown.

Křivoklát Castle can be found in Central Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic.  It is one of the oldest and most important castles of the Czech Republic.  Křivoklát was founded during the 12th century belonging originally to Bohemain kings.  During the reign of Přemysl Otakar II a large, royal castle was built, and then later rebuilt by king Václav IV and later enlarged by king Vladislav of Jagellon.

The castle was destroyed by fire several times.  It was turned into a feared prison and the building slowly deteriorated over time.  During the 19th century, the Fürstenberg family became the owners of the castle, maintaining ownership until 1929, and had it reconstructed after a fire in 1826.  Today the castle houses a museum, is a popular tourist destination and a place of theatrical exhibitions.  Also on display are collections of hunting weapons, Gothic paintings and old books.  The Village Křivoklát slowly grew up under the castle since 14th century.

Mikulov Castle is situated in the town of Mikulov in the lush, exotic region of South Moravia.  The Baroque architecture and soothing colors of this classic structure entice visitors to enter and explore.  The castle stands on a place of historic Slavonic settlement, where since the end of the 13th century the original stone castle was erected.  The present castle was totally recreated by the dukes of Dietrichstein from 1719-1730.  The end of World War II meant a complete disaster for the castle, as German troops withdrawing from the town set it ablaze.  After an extensive reconstruction in the 1950s, the castle became the seat of the Regional Museum in Mikulov with several interesting exhibitions, housing art and historical collections, including artifacts relating to the history of local wine production.  The Renaissance wine barrel, dating from 1643 and one of the largest wine barrels in Central Europe, is on display.  The most interesting parts of the chateau are the chateau library and the Ancestors´ Hall.

Červená Lhota is a castle situated about 20 km northwest of Jindřichův Hradec in south Bohemia.  It stands at the middle of a lake on a rocky island.  Thousands of tourists travel here each year to see the picturesque Renaissance building.  Its name Červená Lhota means "red village" and can be explained by the color of the castle's bright red roof tiles.  There is also a park, where the Chapel of Holy Trinity is located.  The four-winged two-story edifice, with a small courtyard in the middle, occupies the entire rock and juts into the fishpond.  A stone bridge, built in 1622, links the castle with the banks of the pond, replacing the original drawbridge.  The interiors boast an extensive collection of historic furniture, tiled stoves, paintings, porcelain and other antiques and works of art.  The southern edge of the fishpond is covered in thick forest, which forms a backdrop to the castle.  A marked circular path stretches around the fishpond.  Rowing across the fishpond is a popular thing to do in summer, and boats are for hire near the castle.  It was opened to the public in 1949.

Český Krumlov Castle is located in the city Český Krumlov near the Austrian border.  It dates back to 1240 when the first castle was built by the Witigonen family, the main branch of the powerful Rosenberg family.  Construction of the town and castle began in the late 13th century at a ford in the Vltava River, which was important because of the trade routes in Bohemia.  In 1302, the town and castle were owned by the House of Rosenberg.  Emperor Rudolf II bought Krumlov in 1602 and gave it to his son Julius d’Austria.  Emperor Ferdinand II gave Krumlov to the House of Eggenberg.  From 1719 until 1945 the castle belonged to the House of Schwarzenberg.  Most of the architecture of the old town and castle dates from the 14th through 17th centuries.  The town's structures are mostly in Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles.  The core of the old town is within a horseshoe bend of the river, with the old Latrán neighborhood and castle on the other side of the Vltava.

Český Krumlov Castle is unusually large for a town of Krumlov's size.  Within the Czech Republic it is second in size only to the Hradčany castle complex of Prague.  Inside its grounds are a large rococo garden, an long bridge over a deep gap in the rock upon which the castle is built, and the castle itself, which consists of many varied parts dating from different periods of time.  When the garden was not adequately maintained during the second half of the 20th century, the site was included in the 1996 World Monuments Watch by the World Monuments Fund.  With financial support from American Express, the garden's central fountain reconstructed, and is functional today.

During the Communist era of Czechoslovakia, Krumlov fell into disrepair, but since the Velvet Revolution of 1989, much of the town's former beauty has been restored, and it is now a major holiday destination popular with tourists from Germany, Austria and beyond, as far as China.

The city of cesky krumlouv is on the list of the unesco world heritage.