Castle Guard, Prague
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.
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.
As we approached HRADCANY SQUARE, there was a lot of commotion going on and lots of people were gathering around. We were just in time for the CHANGING OF THE CASTLE GUARD.
Amid a lot of pomp and ceremony, the two Guards who were presently posted at their stations in front of the Castle Gates, were about to be relieved. With rigid precision the replacements, who themselves were escorted, marched to the front of the Castle. The Guards being relieved of Duty came out, turned sharply and the new Guards now assumed duties in the guard-house. The relieved guards were then escorted back to the inner depths of the Castle.
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 changing of the guard at Prague Castle takes place every hour. It is a very formal ceremony where two guards in dress uniform are marched in to replace the former two guards. The guards stand at their posts without moving or smiling. At 12 noon every day there is an extended ceremony in the first courtyard involving a group of guards and live music. This ceremony is very popular with tourists and you need to get to the main entrance 15 minutes before the start.
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!
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
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 :)
Pazsky Hrad : It's a citadel cram packed with palaces, churches, courtyards, squares and little streets.
The castle with it's 1000 windows holds spectacular views over Prague.
Golden Lane is a It's a quirky street and Franz Kafka lived at no. 22 but personally I thought it was a bit of a tuorist trap. You have to pay to enter the lane which is filled with little but expensive shops. .
Every day (at the Western Gate) at noon there is the ceremonial changing of the guards worthy of a watch. If you miss this they do change every hour, on the hour. On one of our early morning meanders we were the only people there - us and them. I felt like a bit of a tourist - something I always struggle with - until one of the guards poked his tongue out at us and made me chuckle at which point I was given a withering look by the senior guard and made to feel like a naughty child!!!
The impressive St. Vitus Cathedral holds the sacophagus of Jan Nepomuk behind the main alter & contains a crypt with royal tombs.
Bazilika a klaster sv Jiri (Basilica of St. George) has a baroque exterior but a very ancient interior. No nuns here now - It's used as a concert venue!
Within the grounds, which you can walk freely around, there is a shop from which you can purchase tickets allowing you access into the buildings. There are several differnt tickets available so you can pick and choose (to some extent) what you do and don't want to see.
Make sure you pick up the Prague Castle map which is best alongside a book containing a little information on each area/building - I used the info in my Prague guide book and found that was sufficient.
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.
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.
Changing of the guard takes place at 12pm at the palace. The music is great - more like the music from a sci fi film - very catchy.
You can have your picture taken with the gate guard who stand still as a statue.
Look up at the side of the gates a two large and quite scary statues.
It is a bit of a trek up the hill to the palace - but it's worth it and good for the thigh muscle, so set off in good time.