Once the fortress to keep the crown jewels, today the most famous castle in the Czech Republic. Let’s explore the Karlštejn Castle.

Karlstej Castle in the Czech Republic

There are hundreds of different castles, chateaus, ruins and fortresses from medieval times. Some of them are in excellent shape, some of them not so much. However, Karlštejn is by far one of the most visited places among tourists and locals.

Built by Emperor Charles IV in the 14th century to retain the Imperial relics, such as the imperial crown, Czech crown jewels or relics of saints. Once a year jewels were shown to the public as part of the very special procession. Unfortunately, crown jewels are no longer kept in Kalrštejn (Czech crown jewels are in the Cathedral of St. Vitus in Prague and Imperial in Vienna), but you can see its replicas.

It took only seven years to build. It was a very special project, with terraces that led the visitor to the Big Tower where the crown jewels were stored. To get there you need to make a symbolic journey through the complex up to the tower, where the salvation awaits. In medieval times, only the Emperor and archbishop of Prague were allowed to enter this place.

For many Czechs, the room with crown jewels, known as the Chapel of the Holy Cross, is the most precious and beautiful place in the Czech country. All are decorated by gothic paintings of saints and the wall decoration is inspired by the description of Heavenly Jerusalem. It is the only of its kind, the place you have to experience on your own.

Karlstej Castle in the Czech Republic
Karlštejn at sunset

It’s quite amazing that Karlšejn Castle was never conquered in the past. It even survived a seven-month siege in the 15th century. There is one small weak part of the castle that nobody knows about. The well that provides water for the castle, was connected to the small river that ran under the castle. Therefore the conquerors could poison the river and everybody in the castle would die. But this was a state secret that nobody knew about (only the king and the keeper of the castle).

Walking down from the castle is the small town of Karlštejn. During the summertime filled mostly with tourists but still carries its charming atmosphere. Just look behind you to have a view of the castle itself. However, the most beautiful view of the castle is from the meadow close by, surrounded by the forests where Charles liked to hunt. Let me show you 🙂

There are many legends about Karlštejn. The most famous one tells that the castle was intended only for the spiritual and secular needs of Charles. That means that women were not allowed to enter. True or not? 🙂

Karlstej Castle in the Czech Republic, view from the forest

How to get there:

  • By car: 35km, approx. 50 minutes from Prague.
  • By train: The train leaves from the Main Train Station, it takes about 1 hour. The train station in Karlštejn is about 10 minutes of a walk from the street that takes you up the castle hill.
  • Join my tour 

How to make more from your trip:

  • visit the glass factory in Nižbor or the small glass factory in Nenačovice (reservation required, in Czech so you need a guide to translate to English) and shop for crystal at great prices
  • stop for a view of the old quarry “Amerika
  • explore the small village Svatý Jan pod Skalou
  • enjoy lunch and explore the city of Beroun (local markets on Saturdays and Wednesdays)
  • Visit Koněprusy Caves