Karlštejn Castle

A one-hour drive or train ride through the pretty countryside southwest of Prague will get you to the town of Karlštejn where one of Czech Republic's most famous castles can be found.

Read about our organized guided tour to Karlštejn Castle.


Karlštejn Town and CastleGetting There

If you are arriving by train, expect a 40-minute walk to the castle - flat for about 15 min. until you reach the town, then uphill. Cars must park in the lower part of town from where you'll be facing the uphill walk as well. The climb is moderately strenuous with plenty of distracting shops and restaurants along the way. You can eliminate the uphill walk by taking a taxi or horse-drawn carriage from the bottom of the hill (100 - 150 CZK/person).

History

The Karlštejn Castle was founded by Czech king and Holy Roman emperor Charles IV (Karel IV.) in 1348, the same year when the king founded Prague's New Town and Charles University. The castle was built to hold the royal treasures and coronation jewels of the Roman Empire, and served as the king's retreat. The Czech coronation jewels were kept there for almost 200 years during and after the Hussite wars in the 15th and 16th century.

Karlštejn CastleThe castle was originally built in the Gothic style and reconstructed in the Renaissance style in the 16th century. It owes its present look to the purist Neo-Gothic style designed by architect Josef Mocker at the end of the 19th century - incidentally, during the same period when the majority of Prague's New Town was rebuilt.

Karlštejn stands on a hill surrounded by other hills, so it cannot be seen until you get very close. This clever strategy has paid off. Since it is impossible to see the castle from afar (and thanks to its thick walls), it was never conquered in the past.


Touring the Castle


Route I: Private and Representative Rooms of Emperor Charles IV

Karlštejn Castle CourtyardAlthough some are disappointed with the relatively barren interiors covered on Route I (190 Kč, approx. 50 min.), the tour still provides a lot of interesting information about the time of Charles IV and his life. You will see some valuable artifacts, such as the famed collection of "the worst portraits of Czech nobility" in the country. You can buy tickets for Route I right at the castle unless you have a group of 10 or more, in which case you need to reserve in advance.

Route II: The Sacred Rooms and Chapel of the Holy Cross

Route II (330 Kč, approx. 100 minutes) starts with a visit of the Church of Our Lady and the exquisite St. Catherine Chapel. You will cross the wooden suspension bridge and arrive in the castle tower where you'll see some original sculpture, visit the study of architect Josef Mocker, and, above all, enter the strikingly beautiful Chapel of the Holy Cross where you can admire the largest collection of Gothic paintings in the world (129 paintings by Master Theodorik). Reservations are required to take Route II because a maximum of 16 visitors are allowed to enter the Chapel of the Holy Cross at one time.

Information about how to reserve a tour is available at www.hrad-karlstejn.cz.

Opening Times

The Karlštejn Castle opening times are a bit complicated, so please check the castle website
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Read about our organized guided tour to Karlštejn Castle.