In a fairy-tale Bohemian village south-west of Prague is Karlštejn Castle: perfectly preserved, it is a majestic building with a strong evocative power.
Perched atop a hill, it dominates the village with its imposing appearance, due to the fact that it was built as a defensive fortress. But don’t let the austere exterior frighten you: inside, opulent rooms, no less than five chapels, precious jewellery and a well with an ingenious water pumping system await you.
It was Charles IV, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and Czech king, who commissioned the construction of Karlštejn Castle in 1348 with a specific purpose, namely to guard the crown jewels and treasures of the Holy Roman Empire.
The castle was completed in 1365 and renovated several times over the centuries. The castle’s current neo-Gothic appearance is due to the restoration carried out between 1887 and 1899 by Josef Mocker.
Leaving the castle, wander around the delightful village with its colourful houses, rivers and streams and typical small restaurants. Karlštejn is the perfect destination for an unforgettable day trip from Prague!
Karlštejn Castle can only be visited on a guided tour. Two different tours are available: basic and exclusive.
The basic tour shows you the interior of the Imperial Palace and the lower floors of the Marian Tower, with its precious treasures collected over a long period of time, from the 14th to the 19th century. During the tour you will see:
The exclusive tour is longer and must be booked in advance. It allows you to visit the sacred rooms(Chapel of the Holy Cross, Chapel of St Catherine and Church of Our Lady), the wooden bridge, the Great Tower, a library with pictures of the castle reconstruction and an art gallery.
If you are based in Prague, choose a guided tour with a transfer to visit Karlštejn Castle: choosing one of the following gives you the opportunity to take part in other activities during the excursion, in addition to visiting the castle.
The Bohemian castle is surrounded by stories and legends. For example, it is said that Emperor Charles IV wanted to use the castle for his own exclusive spiritual needs and for this reason women were strictly forbidden entry. Another legend has it that the emperor had such respect for the Chapel of the Holy Cross that he entered it barefoot and with his head down.
Another story connected with the castle has as its protagonist a Czech musician who lived and worked in the palace in the company of his dog. The latter saved his life when the Prince of Brunswick attempted to assassinate the musician by offering him a glass of poisoned wine: the dog jumped into his master’s lap and drank the poison instead.
Karlštejn is only 30 km from Prague and can easily be reached by train with a direct journey of around 40 minutes. Alternatively, you can rent a car or join one of the many guided day trips that include Karlštejn in their itinerary.
Some tour operators also offer cycling tours from Prague to Karlštejn with a visit to the castle: you can choose between a flat route suitable for everyone or a more demanding route in the company of a former professional cyclist.
City Card allow you to save on public transport and / or on the entrances to the main tourist attractions.