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Karlstein Castle

Karlštejn Castle (Burg Karlstein in German) was founded in the year 1348 AD by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia as a safe place where royal treasures including imperial crown jewels and holy relics could be kept. Thus, the castle was named after it founder.

Karlštejn Castle is located some 30 km to southwest of Prague, just above the homonymous village named Karlštejn. The castle is one of the most popular among the Bohemian castles and one of the most often visited historical monuments in the whole Czech Republic.

The construction of the main castle’s walls took about ten years. The Chapel of the Holy Cross was finished some years later (it was consecrated in 1365). All the construction and decoration works run under the Emperor Carl’s personal control. During its long history Karlštejn Castle underwent several reconstructions.

In the first half of the 17th century there were some unsuccessful attempts to besiege the castle. But finally it was conquered by Swedes in 1648 and went into decline after that. Its present appearance Karlštejn Castle acquired in the result of reconstruction in neo-Gothic style by the architect Josef Mocker, which was performed between 1887 and 1899.

The symbol of the Karlštejn Castle is the Great Tower, while its main building is the Chapel of the Holy Cross. The decoration of its Gothic ceiling and walls was made by the court painter Master Theodoric, who furnished them with golden ornaments, stained glass windows and semi-precious stones creating the illusion of the night sky. These decorations are unique. Also the castle possesses the biggest portrait gallery of Bohemian rulers.

There are two variants of guided tours across Karlštejn Castle. The first variant includes inspection of the Imperial Palace rooms and the lower floors of the Great Tower. Visitors can see the courtiers and knights hall, the deanery, the royal bedrooms, the Audience Hall, the Hall of Ancestors, the dining hall, the Treasury and the castle prison.

The second variant of the guided tour takes visitors through the Marian Tower, the Great Tower, St. Mary and St. Catherine's chapels, the sacristy, the wooden suspension bridge, the Castle Picture Gallery, the Library and the Chapel of the Cross. These two survey tours are very different it their interpretation of the castle.

On Mondays Karlštejn Castle is mostly closed. During the period from November to February it is opened only on certain days. The working hours depending on the season may vary - from 09:00 until 15:00 hours in the spring, from 09:00 until 18:00 hours in summer and from 09:00 until 16:00 hours in the fall. The lunch hour from May to September is from 12:00 to 12:30 hours and from 12:00 to 13:00 hours during the period from October to April.

The first variant of guided tour across Karlštejn Castle costs CZK 250 (about EUR 9.5) for adults, CZK 150 (about EUR 6) for children over six years, students and disabled persons and CZK 20 (about EUR 0.8) for children under six. The second variant priced at CZK 300 (about EUR 11.9) for adults, CZK 200 (about EUR 7.9) for children over six, students and disabled persons.

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