Prague Old Royal Palace
If you want to visit here then it means a trip to Prague Castle and you will need to buy a “Historic Buildings Ticket”. There are several parts to the building which I’ll explain below. At the time of writing you need special permission to take photographs inside. Parts of the Old Royal Palace have been destroyed and rebuilt or extended over the centuries so I’ll try and point out where some of the original bits are located.
You enter from the main door in the 3rd Courtyard pictured into a kind of reception area called the Green Room and from there you will enter the Vladislav Hall.
Vladislav Hall Part One
Although it is the most visually stunning part of the Prague Old Royal Palace and you’ll want to walk further into it there is somewhere you should go first. Look over to the right corner behind you and go through that doorway. The steps will be roped off so there is only one accessible area divided into two rooms called the Ludwig Wing. Go to the furthest room. The moment you go through the last doorway look to your left and you’ll see a window. If you have read about the Prague Defenestrations then it was from this window 70 feet above the ground that three men were pushed out from (defenestrated) on May 23rd 1618. This event would trigger the Thirty Years War.
Vladislav Hall Part Two
Now we come back into the hall. It was after the Hussite Wars had ended that in 1483 King Vladislav Jagiello decided to live at Prague Castle. He had much of what you see as the Old Royal Palace constructed hence the hall takes his name. Structurally it’s held up by a ribbed Gothic vaulted ceiling. You will want to aim for the far end of the Vladislav Hall. To this day it remains one of the largest open interior spaces of that style of architecture. The hall hosted a variety of functions including markets, jousting competitions and up until 2013 members of Parliament would gather here to select a new President.
The All Saints Chapel
At the very far end of the Old Royal Palace is the entry to the All Saints Chapel which you can see in the picture above but this is generally closed to the public apart from a very specific religious calendar.
If you look in the far left corner you’ll see another doorway. This is technically on the other side of the exit so some people don’t even get this far. When you go inside you’ll find that it looks somewhat like a courtroom. This is no accident as the purpose of the Diet was to carry out government business or to resolve legal issues (a kind of Supreme Court). A building with this function has existed here since the reign of King Charles IV from 1335 and although the inside of the building was destroyed by the great fire of 1541, the room itself is largely the same except for newer furniture. Many of those “legal issues” revolved around the ownership of land and property. Look at the top left corner above the dais and you’ll see a door.
New Office of Land Rolls
If you had been able to go through that little door you would have appeared in the New Office of Land Rolls. To get to it you need to exit the Diet, turn right walk ten metres and walk up the stairs. The Office of Land Rolls held a record of who owned what for the entire country and it was a tragedy of historic proportions when it burned in 1541 hence why the existing name is the “New” Office of Land Rolls. On the walls and ceilings you can see the coats of arms not just for powerful families but also for each position in the court structure.
There are two exits from the building. If the Rider’s Staircase is closed then you return to the same place where you entered i.e. the Green Room. However if it is open then you’ll find this doorway next to the Diet where you walk down seven shallow steps that lead through a large door to the 3rd courtyard adjacent to ST George Basilica. It was through the large door, but this time using it as an entry, that horse-riders could enter the Vladislav Hall.
If you find any exhibition being hosted by the Old Royal Palace then buy a ticket. This is because everything I’ve described so far is what is considered to be on the ground floor. There are two basement levels, the upper is Gothic and the lower is Romanesque and these are not generally open to the public. So take advantage of being able to see these other floors even if the exhibition itself does not interest you.