Prague Castle is a 70,000m² complex of churches, palaces, halls, towers and gardens, and has been the seat of power for Bohemian Kings, Holy Roman Emperors and Czech presidents. The castle has a long history. The now ruined Church of the Virgin Mary was first built on the site in 870 AD; its oldest surviving building is the Basilica of St. George, founded in 920.
Having weathered a number of wars and a great fire in 1451, the castle has undergone a number of renovations and rebuildings. Its architectural styles span a millennium, including wonderful examples of Gothic and Romanesque, and the castle houses several museums including the National Gallery collection of Bohemian art in St. George’s Basilica.
Another highlight is the Czech Crown Jewels in St. Vitus’ Cathedral; some of the oldest Crown Jewels in Europe, they include the Crown of Saint Wenceslas. During the Nazi occupation Reinhard Heydrich, the ‘Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia’ who took the castle as his headquarters, was rumoured to have worn the crown; an ancient legend states that any usurper who does so will die within a year and sure enough, Heydrich was killed eight months later.
Today, the castle is the seat of Miloš Zeman, the Czech president and current head of state. His state rooms are open the first Saturday after 8 May every year. The castle is also host to numerous concerts and shows each year in its Spanish Hall, and outside St. Vitus on the Terrace of the Riding School.
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