Castle Guard, Prague
Prague Castle sits high on hill overlooking the city of Prague. The castle can been seen from almost anywhere in the city. The Castle gates pictured here are crowned with copies of the Fighting Giants from the 18th century by Ignaz Platzer. The actual history of Prague was started at this historical site in the 9th century. Today the castle contains the seat of the President of the Republic. Also within the castle walls is the beautiful St. Vitas Cathedral. There is a changing of the guard each hour at the gates. You can spend several hours walking along inside the gates of the castle. My misfortune was to run out of film for my camera after entering the castle. When I added my new role it did not load properly and I lost an entire roll of pictures taken inside the castle.
There is the formal changing of the guard in the first courtyard daily at 12:00 noon
At the Castle gates hourly from 7 am to 6/8 pm (summer/winter)
The Guard is composed of a brigade unit of 653 persons provided by the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic. Technically, they serve the President of the Czech Republic, not only as security force but also as honor guard/ceremonial functions. Remember, of course, that the President of the Czech Republic is also a resident of Prague Castle as well as the sole titular administrator of the Castle.
Here are a few of the requirements for admission into the Castle Guard:
Height- must be between 1-78 and 1-88 meters
Weight proportional to height- cannot be overweight
No tattoos, piercings or earrings, no visible cosmetic defects
No beards or facial hair
Perfect health- including sight (no glasses allowed)
There is a psychological evaluation required for military service as well as one for Castle Guards.
The uniforms are only worn by this group. Light blue uniforms for summer and dark blue for winter. The guard is armed with a "Scorpio" submachine gun with bayonet attachment.
The actual ceremony of the Changing of the Guard was pretty low key, really. Don't expect flamboyant colors, feathered helmets like in Italy, showy goose stepping or any of that. It's a simple, precise ceremony with a minimum of fanfare compared to other European countries.
The Royal Guards stand just outside the gates of Prague Castle. Unlike the Royal Guards in other cities you are actually able to stand close to them for pictures. I can imagine the poor guards must get weary of posing for pictures here with thousands of tourists trying to original and stand by them for pictures. But I could not resist the opportunity and became one of those thousands.
The changing guards at the castle is a nice ritual to see but you have to wait in a fine place to see it, otherwise the crowed won't let you see anything. With the advice of my VT friend Martin, i stayed on the top of the stairs and i could take some pics. Well, then when i leaved the castle i had the chance to take some near pics.
The Castle Guards are changed every hour, in this case there are just a few soldiers that march in, swap over sentry duty and then march off again.
However once a day, there is a much larger display. I have posted several pictures here, some show the basic guard change-over, but most are pictures of the much larger and much longer display that occurs once a day – if memory serves me well, this is at midday.
If you want to watch the midday show, make sure you start to take up position at least ten minutes early if you want a good view. You will probably get a better view if you get yourself into the castle square rather than outside the gates. For the normal hourly display, being outside the gates is best.
The Czech Girls do seem to enjoy hassling the guards. I missed the best shot here where these three girls really were getting quite amorous with the poor guard, but I got this shot just after whilst they were posing more formally!
I’m assuming that the Czech Guards have to stand to attention (no pun intended!) and not smile at all for the whole hour they are on sentry duty – this is what the British Soldiers have to do in London. These girls are of course doing everything possible to distract him, and despite making him look rather uncomfortable, he is sticking to his duty admirably!
Changing guard on a castle is always a very tasted moment. Tried to capture them in motion, but they were very serious about that and did not pose 'eyes-wide-shut' for my camera :) Interesting how everybody else but them freezes and stares at the poor guys :)
Both the main entrance and the north entrance are guarded
Even if you have seen it before (Monaco, London, Sofia, ...) it is always an entertaining sight, but poor fellas who can not move for hours and are bothered by a zillion tourists (yes us included) that pose on a photo next to them.
The Changing of the Guard at Prague Castle takes place every hour on the hour from 5 in the morning till 11 at night. If you want to see an extra touch of pomp and ceremony then you need to be there at noon when the banners are exchanged and the fanfare is played.
Prague Castle Complex:
Apr-Oct: Daily 05:00-24:00
Nov-Mar: Daily 06:00-23:00
Prague Castle Sights & Attractions:
Apr-Oct: Daily 09:00-18:00
Nov-Mar: Daily 09:00-16:00
Prague Castle Gardens:
Apr & Oct: Daily 10:00-18:00
May & Sep: Daily 10:00-19:00
Jun-Aug: Daily 10:00-21:00
At the gate, you could see two beautifully uniformed sentries standing alert without getting impress from thousands of tourist taking there photo and staring them. My question if I could make a photo was answered by an almost imperceptible blink.
Rain or shine they are standing there.
Up on the castle hill, the guard changes to the beat of a brass band every hour to deter terrorists and attract tourists. Their new uniforms were commissioned by Playwright-President Vaclave Havel from the costume designer for the movie Amadeus.
The change of guards ceremony takes place between early morning and late night.
This was the first "changing of the guard" I'd ever seen - which must explain why I took nine pictures! Hopefully they still do this, it was quite formal and impressive (since then I've seen Buckingham, but I still like the Hrad version). I have also a picture of guards standing in those tall windows above their heads. Not sure what the purpose of that was, but got my #1 vote for "cool use of windows."
The guards are of course much more than just a tourist attraction.
They hold a machine-gun, and are mainly ment to guard the president's offices.
They will let all tourists pass by and even accept all that foto-shooting with them in the background...
Every hour there is a small changing of the guards, and at 12.00 noon there is a big changing-ceremony with music and a parade.
The guards change round every hour, although the one to watch if you want an elaborate display is at noon. This incorporates a brass ensemble.
The guards are like the buckingham palace guards & are required to stand still & solem in their boxes. I think I made this one smile :-) Some of the guards are quite hunky ladies - so don't forget to pose for your pic!!
At noon, you can watch the shift of the castle guard. Being a traveller who has visited many countries and watched many guard shifts, I must admit that this was an ordinary one which does not include any spectacular moments in it. But still, you can wait for 5-10 minutes in front of the castle entrance to watch the guards shift.