Spend a morning with a guide exploring Prague Castle, which dominates the city from a hill on the western bank of the Vltava River, as well as some of the important sights outside the castle. Despite the name, it’s actually a sprawling palace complex — the largest in the world — has been the seat of rulers from the Bohemian kings of the 9th century to today’s Czech presidents.
Your guide will meet you at your hotel to escort you to the gates of the castle, where you’ll pass the palace guards before venturing inside. The oldest part of the complex, the Old Royal Palace, was likely built in about 880 as a wooden fortification, and rebuilt with stone centuries later in a Romanesque style.
Your tour will also include other sights, both inside the complex and nearby: the gloriously Gothic Cathedral of Saint Vitus, a street-turned-museum, the medieval library at Strahov Monastery, Lennon Wall and Kampa Island.
Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Prague Castle has witnessed more than a millennium of history. A visit here with a private guide offers a chance to learn more about the country. The castle is actually a rambling complex that encompasses churches, towers, courtyards and other buildings, all in dozens of styles. You’ll see Romanesque buildings from the 10th century nestled against 14th-century Gothic structures as well as modern repairs and reconstructions throughout.
A highlight in the complex is the soaring Cathedral of Saint Vitus, the most important religious monument in the Czech Republic. Royal coronations took place here and it’s the burial ground of saints, noblemen and royals. The pillar-lined nave is lit by sunlight streaming through high, glittering stained-glass windows.
You’ll also visit Golden Lane. Once a street inside the complex where artisans, castle workers and soldiers lived, it’s been converted into a museum. Duck inside small houses and low-ceilinged shops to see how writers, marksmen, fortune tellers and goldsmiths lived and worked throughout the centuries.
Once you’ve finished with the castle, your guide will lead you to the nearby Strahov Monastery, a 12th-century Premonstratensian abbey. The order still lives and works from here, so the main areas are off limits to visitors. Instead, you’ll head directly to the ornate library, which is home to one of the world’s largest collections of philosophical and theological texts. The halls that house the collection are every bit as impressive as the books, with opulent frescoes and intricate woodwork.
You’ll end the tour by walking past the graffiti-scrawled Lennon Wall, named after the singer who was an icon in the city during the latter days of Communist rule. The street art was a form of political protest during the 1980s constantly whitewashed by the authorities and repainted. Today, it remains a popular spot for anyone with a can of spray paint to express themselves.
Finally, you’ll reach Kampa Island, in the middle of the river. Once home to the city’s poorest residents, it’s now a calm park that offers a refreshing respite from the bustling streets.