Castle sights in Prague
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Prague Castle – Pražský hrad, or just hrad to Czechs – is Prague’s most popular attraction. According to the Guinness World Records, it’s the largest ancient castle in the world: 570m long, an average of 128m wide and covering a total area bigger than seven football fields. Its history begins in the 9th century when Prince Bořivoj founded a fortified settlement here. It grew haphazardly as rulers made their own additions, creating an eclectic mixture of architectural styles. The castle has always been the seat of Czech rulers as well as the official residence of the head of state, although the Czech Republic’s first president, Václav Havel, chose to live in his own…
The main gate, on Hradčany Sq, is flanked by huge, 18th-century statues of battling Titans, which dwarf the guards beneath. Playwright-turned-president Václav Havel brought some pizzazz to the castle after 1989, when he hired the Czech costume designer on the film Amadeus to redesign the guards' uniforms and then instigated a changing of the guard ceremony. The most impressive display is at 12:00, when banners are exchanged and a band plays.
The changing of the guard ceremony takes place every hour between 05:00 and 22:00 (09:00 and 22:00 in winter).