The Prague Royal Road
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Street With No Name
You will not find any street sign in Prague that says “Royal Road”. It’s used to describe a route between two points i.e. Republic Square and Prague Castle. The construction of Prague Castle began in the year 880 and was used as a royal residence as early as the 13th Century but it was difficult to defend so on several occasions the Castle was abandoned and the royal court took up residence in the Old Town. The location of the royal court is the present day Municipal House on Republic Square. As by 1344, St Vitus Cathedral was the main venue for burials and coronations and the Old Royal Palace was being used for official celebrations and elections, it was often required to make the journey up to Prague Castle from the Royal Court hence the route taken is now referred to as either the Royal Road or the Royal Route.
What’s on the Royal Road?
Starting on the Old Town side the first two attractions i.e. the Municipal House and the Powder Gate are right at the start. You then walk along a street called Celetna (in Medieval times the location of bakers but then becomes rebuilt with many grand city palaces and now includes the Czech Cubism Museum). Celetna leads you onto the Old Town Square with all of it’s attractions but the Royal Road stays strictly to the left of the square and passes close to the Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock. A bit further and you clip “little square” before entering a street called Karlova (Charles Street).
Karlova is a very narrow dog-legging street where you’ll turn left, right, right and left (passing close to the Clam-Gallas Palace), historically the most sought-after place for a shop and still is. Karlova then emerges briefly into a small square where you’ll find the Church of Saint Clements and the larger Klementinum complex on your right. At the end of Karlova you arrive at the Old Town gate of the Charles Bridge.
Having crossed the Charles Bridge the Royal Road continues first along the street called Mostecka (the bridge road) and then passes through Malostranske Namesti (the main square of the Mala Strana side puts you exactly 100 metres from either the Czech Parliament building or the Infant Jesus of Prague). This square is dominated by the Church of Saint Nicholas Lesser Town. Passing the church to the right you enter the hill called Nerudova and this part of the Royal Road continues to be lined by little shops but also a couple of Embassies.
Towards the top of the hill a road bears to your right called Ke Hradu (the way to the Castle) and at the top of this part of the hill you’ll arrive at the main entry to the Prague Castle. Once upon a time you would have crossed a 20 metre wide moat to get into the castle but now it’s a courtyard. On passing through the first two courtyards you enter what is now the third courtyard and regardless of whether the destination was the Vladislav Hall (elections) or St Vitus (burials, services, weddings and coronations), you have reached the end of the Royal Road.
Where to go next? I have my own Suggestion for Exploring Prague Castle.
Parts of the Old Town side of the Royal Road are explored in the Hidden Secrets of the Old Town and Jewish Quarter Walking Tour.