Places Around Prague Castle
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The Prague Castle is the castle in Prague where the Czech kings, Holy Roman Emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic have had their seats. Prague Castle is one of the biggest castles in the world (and according to Guinness Book of Records the biggest ancient castle) at about 570 meters in length and an average of about 130 meters wide. The castle buildings represent virtually every architectural style of the last millennium.
The history of the castle stretches back to the 9th century. The first walled building was the church of Our Lady. Basilicas of St. George and St. Vitus were founded in the first half of the 10th century. Since then Prague Castle was not only the seat of the head of state, the princes and later kings, but of the highest representative of the church, the Prague bishop as well.
The adaptation of the Castle came to its height in the second half of the 16th century, during the rule of Rudolph II. The emperor settled permanently in Prague Castle and began to turn it into a grand and dignified centre of the empire. He founded the northern wing of the palace, with today's Spanish Hall, to house his precious artistic and scientific collections.
The Prague defenestration in 1618 started a long period of wars, during which Prague Castle was damaged and robbed. It was used by the country's ruler only exceptionally and temporarily.
In the second half of the 18th century the last great rebuilding of the Castle was carried out, making it a prestigious castle-type seat. After the foundation of the independent Czechoslovak Republic in 1918 Prague Castle again became the seat of the head of state. The Slovene architect Josip Plecnik was entrusted with the necessary alterations in 1920.
Today reconstruction and alterations to the grounds of Prague Castle are going on, and this is not only a matter of essential building maintenance. The basic aim is to open the grounds of the Castle to all comers. Since 1989 many previously closed areas have been thrown open to the public, for instance the Royal Garden with its Ball Game Hall, the southern gardens, the Imperial Stables, the Theresian Wing of the Old Royal Palace.
Today Prague Castle, besides the seat of the head of state, is also an important cultural and historical monument. The crown jewels are kept in Prague Castle, as are the relics of Bohemian kings, precious Christian relics, art treasures and historical documents. Events important for the whole country have taken place within its walls. Hence Prague Castle is the embodiment of the historical tradition of the Czech state, linking the present with the past.