While visiting my family in Prague we took a day trip to Karlštejn castle and wandered through the town of Karlštejn. The large gothic castle founded in 1348, is one of the most famous and frequently visited castles in the Czech Republic along with the Prague Castle. Just 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the center of Prague, it’s the perfect place to spend the day and see the beautiful Czech countryside.
Just a few miles before you arrive to the castle you can stop and see Velká Amerika (Big America), an abandoned limestone quarry. It spans 800 meters long, 200 meters wide and goes as deep as 100 meters with an 18 meter deep lake at the bottom. It is also referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Czech Republic. While driving through the Czech countryside with rolling hills and open fields, it is quite a surprise to come across this picturesque canyon.
When you arrive in the town of Karlštejn you may not be able to catch a glimpse of the castle. Tucked away high in the surrounding hills, the castle was built by Charles IV the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia. Serving as a place for safekeeping of the crown jewels and treasures the castle was also used by Charles IV as a bachelor pad for himself and his hunting buddies. Women were not allowed in the castle until years later because it was meant to be a place of relaxation for the king, away from any temptations and politics. There is a famous musical and movie Noc na Karlštejně (Night at Karlštejn Castle) about Queen Elizabeth who misses Charles IV and decides to check on him. She dresses up as a man meanwhile a young girl gets the same idea to stay and prove she spent a night at the castle. Of course a series of events make it a night to remember and Charles IV changes the rule allowing women to stay in the castle.
Walking up the road to the castle you pass dozens of gifts shops, restaurants and cafés. No cars are allowed along the road except for those who live in the town allowing for a peaceful stroll up to the castle. Tours are offered hourly and there are several tours to choose from, we chose the basic hour long tour that takes you through the private and representative halls (if you are interested in booking a tour click here). Seeing the inside of the castle and exploring all of the rooms, you have an idea of what the castle was like when Charles IV lived there. The most interesting fact I learned was that the castle was completed in 17 years. I was amazed by this because looking at the large size of Karlštejn it’s astonishing to hear it was built in such a short period of time without the use of the cranes, bulldozers and construction teams we have today.
Heading back to Prague we stopped to pick a few cherries off a cherry tree on the side of the road. It is very common in Czech culture to pick fruits anywhere in the countryside, I grew up picking blueberries, strawberries, cherries, apples and mushrooms =o)
x the Adventurer
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