Prague Castle is on a low hill overlooking the city. It claims to be “the largest coherent castle complex in the world,” with an area of almost 70,000 m².
When I was there in 2011 they offered two types of admission tickets, the “long visit” and the “short visit”. I took the short visit, so I missed out on the Powder Tower, the Picture Gallery and a permanent exhibition called “The Story of Prague Castle”.
Since then they have rearranged the ticketing system. As of 2019, there are three ‘circuits’ to choose from, labelled A, B and C. (Details here.)
St. George’s Basilica is within the grounds of Prague Castle, and is included in circuits A and B.
The outside is a baroque façade from the seventeenth century, but the inside is the oldest church in the castle complex, a Romanesque church that was founded around the year 920.
Classical music concerts are often held in the Basilica of St. George, typically every second or third evening. When I was there, they were advertising a “Prague Castle Concert” by a group called ” The Old Prague Music Ensemble,” consisting of five musicians and a singer named Libuse Moravcova-Myratska. Their program was quite typical for a tourist concert:
F. Schubert: Ave Maria with soprano
A. Dvořák: Humoresque, Largo from the New World Symphony, Slavonic Dance no. 8
C. Franck: Panis Angelicus with soprano
J. Pachelbel: Canon in D
G. Bizet: Intermezzo and Ouverture from the opera Carmen
A. Vivaldi: Four Seasons – Spring, 2nd movement from Winter
G. F. Händel: Lascia ch’io pianga with soprano
W. A. Mozart: Alleluja with soprano
J. Brahms: Hungarian dances no. 5 & 6
You could hear most of these pieces six or seven times a week if you went to all the tourist concerts in the Castle and Old Town of Prague. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, especially, is a staple of these tourist concerts all over Europe, and I think for some of the musicians it must get quite stale after a while. Vivaldi himself would probably have been astounded if he had known that his Four Seasons would become so popular, while his many operas and choral works remained in relative obscurity.
My own favorite from this list is the aria Lascia ch’io pianga (Let me cry) from Händel’s opera Rinaldo.
(See my post Händel as an opera composer.)
I took this photo from down in the city, with the Vltava River and Charles Bridge in the foreground.
My photos in this post are from 2011. I revised the text in 2019.