Karlstejn Castle – tourist’s guide to a stunning attraction in Czech Republic

Karlstejn Castle is one of the most visited attractions in the Czech Republic. The town is located near Prague, so you can get here on your own. Of course, in the Czech Republic there are many medieval buildings, however, Karlstejn is a win-win option. For inspection, choose at least half a day and go on an excursion in the morning. What to consider before the trip – you will learn from our article.

Karlstejn Castle
Photo: Karlstejn Castle

General information about Karlstejn Castle

Karlstejn Castle in the Czech Republic used to be a royal residence, and today it is a cultural and architectural monument of national importance. According to local residents, the castle represents Czech statehood.

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Good to know! The attraction is located 30 km from Prague on the mountain, which rises above the river Berounka. The castle is surrounded by a dense forest, it is not surprising that photographs resembling shots from a fairy-tale film can be taken on the observation deck.

In terms of attendance, the castle has long been ranked second among all tourist destinations in the Czech Republic. There are still many unsolved mysteries in the history of the royal residence. According to one legend, a noblewoman lived in the castle, killing fourteen innocent maids. Subsequently, she was convicted of painful death from hunger. Historical facts confirm that during the Hussite wars, the palace walls were besieged by supporters of Jan Hus, who destroyed the fortress. There is still a legend telling that women were forbidden to enter the palace, but the fourth wife of Charles IV lifted this ban.

Karlstejn Castle

And another legend tells of a blind musician who played a lute in the castle and was accompanied by his faithful dog. Once the prince listened to music and wanted to treat him with a glass of wine, but the dog did not allow the musician to drink a drink, because he sensed poison. The dog cried out wine and died a few minutes later, and after a while the musician died from longing for a faithful friend.

Services are held three times a year in a small town, and the Pope is present. Classical music is played in the knight’s room. If you are lucky enough to get to the castle complex in early autumn, you will be taken to the annual harvest festival dedicated to local vineyards. During the events, guests are invited to taste young wine and traditional national dishes, admire theatrical performances stylized as the Middle Ages, and see jousting tournaments.

Karlstejn Castle

Photo: Karlstejn Castle, Czech Republic

History and construction

1348 is marked in the history of the Czech Republic as one of the most significant. At this time, the reigning monarch Charles IV founded the New Town in Prague and began the construction of the Karlstejn Palace. According to the king’s plan, relics and treasures belonging to the monarch’s family were to be kept in the castle.

Karlstejn Castle near Prague

Interesting facts about the palace:

  • construction was carried out at an altitude of 72 meters above sea level;
  • The landmark project belongs to the French architect Matvey Arasky;
  • the right to lay the first stone of the castle was entrusted to Archbishop Arnost Pardubicki;
  • 9 years were spent on the construction, but the king settled in the castle two years earlier.

The palace had step architecture, each subsequent floor towered above the previous one. At the lowest level there were farm buildings and housing for servants, the upper steps were occupied by the palace chambers, and the tallest building was the Big Tower – height 25 m., Wall thickness 4 m.

Interesting fact! The Well Tower was located on the lower steps, but there was no water in it, since it was not possible to find it in the castle. Then it was decided to extend the well to the river.

The period of prosperity of the castle lasted until 1421, however, at the beginning of the 15th century, royal treasures were removed by King Sigmund I so that they would not go to the enemy troops – Hussites and Swedes. However, fears turned out to be in vain, the invaders did not get inside the castle, but the chapel of the Holy Cross was significantly damaged.

Karlstejn Castle

In the second half of the 15th century, the Karlstejn palace in the Czech Republic was restored, decorated in the Gothic style with renaissance elements. Nevertheless, the attraction gradually fell into decay, which led to the fact that at the end of the 17th century some buildings on the castle were on the verge of destruction, and some buildings were used as storage rooms and for storing grain.

The revival of the castle began in the early 18th century, when representatives of art showed interest in it. The complete reconstruction was completed in 1899, as a result of the appearance of Karlstejn has changed significantly.

Architecture and what to see on the territory

The attraction consists of two thematic parts:

  • Top;
  • Lower.
Lower courtyard of Karlstejn Castle
Lower courtyard of Karlstejn Castle

On the territory of the Upper Palace complex you can see:

  • The Great and the Mariinsky Tower;
  • imperial castle;
  • Church of the Virgin Mary.

On the territory of the Lower Castle, a large courtyard was preserved, as well as burggrafism, and at the lowest point there is a well tower, inside of which there is a well in which there has never been water.

Noble hall

The castle complex has preserved several unique masterpieces of architecture of the 14th century – stained-glass windows in the Gothic style, lining of precious minerals, paintings in the chapel of the Holy Cross. By the way, the chapel is the heart of the palace complex, the vault, the walls are decorated with gilded stucco, precious minerals, and the dome resembles a starry sky with the Sun and Moon.

Tours are also held inside the Imperial Palace. Unfortunately, not all rooms are open, only:

  • The noble hall, where fragments of ancient wooden panels are presented, with which the walls were insulated;
  • an audience hall, in which the royal armchair is located between the windows, so that the monarch sees the faces of people, and guests cannot see his faces due to the blinding sun;
  • Imperial crown
    Imperial crown of St. Wenceslas
  • the meeting room is decorated with ancient frescoes depicting the relatives of the monarch Charles IV;
  • cutlery of the Gothic era is on display in the refectory, it is noteworthy that the whole pattern on the cups and bowls is embossed – this is done specifically so that the dishes do not slip in greasy hands;
  • the bedroom is the king’s favorite quarters; the figure of St. Catherine leaned over his bed, thanks to the patronage of which the monarch won his first battle.

A copy of the crown of St. Wenceslas, weapons, ancient chess, cards and precious stones is presented in the Mariinsky Tower.

Interesting fact! Among the exhibits there is a crocodile skull; in the era of King Charles IV, the animal was mistaken for a dragon.

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Practical information

  1. Coordinates of the attraction: 49 ° 56 ‘21.7527 ″ N, 14 ° 11’ 16.8213 ″ E.
  2. A visit to Karlstejn Castle is selected individually depending on the excursion route. You can read more about the castle’s work schedule on the official website www.hrad-karlstejn.cz/en.
  3. Entrance to the castle chapel
    Chapel Entrance
  4. The price of tickets also depends on the chosen excursion tour: the Imperial Palace – 210 CZK, the sacred relics of the castle complex – 500 CZK, the entrance to the observation deck – 170 CZK. For more information on ticket prices, see the site of the attraction (see point 4). Tickets are available on the castle website, after payment they need to be printed.
  5. Official site of Karlstejn Castle: www.hrad-karlstejn.cz/en.

How to get from Prague to Karlstejn yourself

Given the small distance between the Czech capital and the attraction, many are interested in the question – how to get from Prague to Karlstejn on your own?

By train

The fastest and cheapest route is by train. Convenient double-decker trains run between the settlements. The distance between Prague and Karlstejn is only 30 km, so the trip takes 40 minutes.

Trains in the direction of Prague-Beroun depart from the main railway station with an interval of half an hour. The station is located near Wenceslas Square and the metro station Hlavni nadrazi. To go from the metro station to the railway platform, you do not need to go outside, since the station is located underground and the ground building is closed.

Train Station
Prague train station

Ticket Prague-Karlstejn costs 90 CZK, if you buy tickets in both directions, the price will be slightly less.

Good to know! The ticket does not indicate the time, train number and seat number, the document is valid for 24 hours from the date of purchase.

Be sure to present a ticket for public transport valid for 1 or 3 days at the ticket office, in which case you can get from Prague to Karlstejn cheaper. Also, the ticket must be shown along with the ticket to the inspector in the car.

The cars have tables, clean toilets, comfortable coasters, warm in any weather. Experienced tourists recommend choosing places on the second floor to enjoy the surrounding landscapes during the trip.

Carriages in trains

The train arrives in Karlstejn and you need to walk about two kilometers to the castle, you can walk or take a taxi. Getting lost in a small town is difficult, as there are signs from the station to the palace. After leaving the train, go through the river and turn right.

On bicycle

Active travelers to the question – how to get from Prague to Karlstejn? Feel free to answer – on a bicycle. An exciting journey along a scenic route awaits you. By the way, there are special roads for cyclists in the Czech Republic, on which you can reach speeds of up to 25 km / h.

By taxi or with a guided tour
Taxi to the castle

A convenient and expensive way to visit Karlstejn Castle is to join an excursion group.

How to get from Prague to Karlstejn Castle quickly and comfortably? Call a taxi through the Uber app. The trip will cost about CZK 400.

Important! Karlstejn is a pedestrian city, the main parking is located in the Lower part, a few kilometers from the castle. There is parking in the upper part of Karlstejn, but transport of newlyweds and disabled people stops here.

Prices on the page are for May 2019.

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Useful Tips

  1. Buy excursion tickets in advance, as the attraction is popular and there are a lot of people who want to stroll around the residence of Czech monarchs.
  2. Most of all who want to get into the chapel of the Holy Cross, which is located in the North Tower.
  3. Castle chapel
    Castle chapel
  4. Getting to the castle is not so simple – the climb is quite steep and difficult, so children and older people need to have water with them and calculate their strength.
  5. On the way to the castle there are cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops.
  6. It is impossible to be inside the castle on your own, only as part of an excursion group, but you can explore the surroundings without time limits.
  7. If you can’t get to Prague from Karlstejn, you can stay at one of the hotels for the night.

Karlštejn Castle is the pearl of medieval architecture in the Czech Republic, be sure to plan an excursion to the sights. We hope our information will help you get to the palace quickly, comfortably and get the most pleasant emotions from your trip.

Useful information for those who want to visit Karlstejn Castle and what you can see inside – in this video

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