This tour takes us to one of the most popular castles in the Czech Republic. But be warned that it is only for the fit people who love walking. It is at least a 20-minute-walk up the hill from the parking place and there are lots of steps inside the castle too!
The castle was built in the 14th century during the reign of Charles IV. Charles IV had this castle built as a treasury for the holy relics, Imperial Coronation Jewels and later on also Czech Coronation Jewels. Unlike many other castles which were built mostly for strategic and military reasons, Karlstejn was built as a private residence of Charles IV - a place for his contemplation and meditation. Its main tower, especially the Chapel of the Holy Rood was a real wonder in its times. Richly decorated with semi-precious stones, gold plating and marvellous pictures representing „the holy army of saints”, it is the greatest example of Gothic art and architecture.
The castle represents Gothic fortification architecture inspired by German and French medieval castles. Divided into three parts, it forms an almost impregnable fortress. The interiors of the castle commemorate the period of Charles IV but the exterior is more impressive than the interior with the exception of the Chapel of the Holy Rood which is a separate tour that has to be booked well in advance.
There are two guided tours that can be visited at Karlstejn Castle. The first tour takes us through the historical interiors of the Imperial Palace, visiting the Vassal’s Hall, the bedroom of Charles IV, the audience hall, the hall of ancestors connected with banquet hall and finally the Marian Tower with the treasury. You can admire the copy of the Czech Royal Crown dedicated to St. Wenceslas in the treasury. This tour gives you an overview of the history of the castle and tells you about its importance.
The second tour is more aimed at the private life of Charles IV. It starts in the Church of our Lady, adorned by beautiful Gothic frescoes, continues to its sacristy and Chapel of St. Catherine. The most fascinating frescoes of the Church of Our Lady depict the Apocalypse - the prophecy of St. John, the final battle between good and evil.
We continue climbing many steps to the Great Tower with the Chapel of the Holy Rood - the world largest of its kind. The Chapel is really breathtaking. During the times of Charles IV there was nothing in western Christianity to rival its beauty. Gothic ceiling and walls of the Chapel are covered by semi-precious stones and gilded stucco creating the illusion of the sky. Entirely unique is the original decoration of wall paintings dating back to the 14th century. It is the collection of 129 panel paintings by Master Theodorik, the largest portrait gallery of Czech rulers in the country. This tour must be booked well in advance.