Monday, March 28, 2011

Hrad Karlstein near Prague

We had some errands to run in Prague this past Friday, so we rented a car and explored Hrad Karlstein which had been one of the places we wanted to visit. Hrad Karlstein is a beautiful castle only 25 km away from Prague. As you may have guessed from the name, it was build by the Czech King and Roman Emperor Charles IV in the 14th century. It was the place for safekeeping of the royal treasuries, particularly a collection of holy relics and Imperial crown jewels. The record shows that Charles IV himself stayed in the castle to supervise the building works and interior decoration in 1355.

The castle has a stair-like formation starting from the lowest-lying Well Tower and Burgrave's Residence, continuing on to the extensive Imperial Palace, then to the Marian Tower, and finally to the Great Tower. What's amazing is that they completed the construction within 17 years back in the era with no bulldozers!

There are tours almost every hour even in English. The tour does not include the viewing of Chapel of The Holy Cross in The Great Tower, which we really wanted to see, during the winter time (they said it is only open to the VIPs which obviously we are not), but it takes you through major rooms such as Emperor's Bedchamber and Audience Hall.

Here is a little bit about Charles IV. His father is John the Blind of Luxembourg who became blind 10 years before he died in the Battle of Crécy in 1346 at age 50. Charles was his eldest son and was crowned King of Bohemia one year after his father's death at age 31. He was French educated and founded University of Prague (a.k.a. Charles University), the first university in Central Europe, in 1348.

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