Spring in Prague's Royal Parks
The most challenging season to get hold of is spring - it arrives from out of nowhere each year after finger-numbing temperatures. But it's not winter, and that's good enough.
Let's face it: March is capricious. The weather irregularly spikes into the 15 degrees Celsius before dipping back into the 5s.
When winter has probably given up in April, with temperatures dancing around 20 degrees Celsius (onto optimistically 10s at night), we try to go outside without our winter parkas. Wearing one feels like breathing in a sauna. Not wearing one will freeze you to the bone. April could be more wardrobe-friendly.
Come May, nature doesn't mind the fickle weather and awakens with a myriad of colorful blossoms and verdant greens from lawns to treetops. So it's time to go outdoors for long walks in the park.
Fortunately, Prague has no shortage of jaw-dropping, romantic, palatial parks and gardens with cozy nooks and plaids of carefully manicured lawns, arbors dressed in white blooms, vibrant green shrubs, and bright-colored springtime flowers everywhere.
Prague's royal parks are beautiful every season but are purely radiant in spring. So where will you go for a walk? In one of the parks and gardens around Prague Castle or the gardens of Vyšehrad Castle?
Prague Castle Royal Parks and Gardens
Royal Garden : Commissioned by Ferdinand I of Habsburg, this outstanding Renaissance garden was landscaped on the site of old medieval vineyards in 1534. It boasts beautiful exotic plants and rare botanical specimens from the Czech Republic and abroad.
You can admire a giardinetto near the Royal Summer Palace, Baroque flower beds, an English-style garden, and the Orangery in the Royal Garden. Although there was a Renaissance orangery in the past, what you see today was designed in 1999 in a modern structural expressionist style by architect Eva Jiřičná.
Another noteworthy attraction in the Royal Garden is the Singing Fountain in front of Queen Ann's Summerhouse. It is a Renaissance fountain designed by Francesco Terzio of Bergamo and cast in bell metal and bronze between 1564-1568 by Tomáš Jaroš, who also modeled "Sigismund," St. Vitus Cathedral's largest bell.
The South Gardens: There are five Baroque gardens south of Prague Castle: Ledebour, Small Palffy, Large Palffy, Kolowrat, and Small Fürstenberg. Each garden has a particular layout, artistic composition, and design. All have been on the UNESCO Heritage List since 1992. You can book a tour to learn about their history, the landscape architects who designed them, and the plants populating them.
Vyšehrad Park in the Vyšehrad Castle Complex
Take a walk in Vyšehrad Park for breathtaking views of the Vltava River. The Vyšehrad Castle complex is just about three kilometers southeast of Prague Castle. According to local folklore, here was the first settlement that later became the capital of the Czech Republic. In fact, Vyšehrad was the royal seat of the country until the XIV century, when Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV began building Prague Castle.
The main attraction of Vyšehrad Park is the Vyšehrad fort with its brick ramparts and bastions. You can take your time to observe the gates:
- Tábor and Leopold gates have a Baroque structure;
- Cihelná brána (Brick gate) features Empire-style architecture from 1841;
- Špička Gate is from the Middle Ages
Other attractions in the Vyšehrad complex include:
- The Romanesque rotunda of St. Martin (dating from the XIth century);
- The Libušina lázeň Gothic lookout tower from the Middle Ages;
- The Gothic cellar dating from the XIV century;
- The XIth century Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul remodeled in 1887 in a neo-Gothic style;
- Vyšehrad Cemetery, which is the resting place of famous Czech personalities from the arts and politics;
- The Open Air Theatre, built in 1850 and used for theater performances, concerts, and other events;
When it comes to the royal gardens, you will find three main areas in the complex:
- Štulc Gardens: Although originating in 1879, the gardens, in their current layout, are the work of landscape architect J. Novotný. From the Štulc Gardens, you can access the Open Air Theatre. In addition, a replica of the statue of St. Wenceslas by Jan Jiří Bendl is on display in the park - the original being in the Lapidary of the National Museum.
- Karlach Gardens: Created in 1881 by Mikuláš Karlach, they feature paths, orchards, a park with seating areas, and trees to provide shade. Their main attractions are the Devil's Column and the statue of St. John of Nepomuk. Architect Otakar Kuča updated the layout of the park in 2000, also adding a classicist fountain on the eastern side.
- The Ducal and Royal District Acropolis features paths from the Přemyslid dynasty connecting the park's main attractions: Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, sculptures from Palacký Bridge by J. V. Myslbek depicting scenes from Czech myths, the Gothic Cellar, the Romanesque bridge, etc.
Vyšehrad has been a national cultural monument since 1962. Today it is a favorite meeting point for many locals, who enjoy walking on its promenade paths and historic tree alleys.
Prague has no shortage of parks and gardens, and even if you are not strolling around one of the royal sites, you can still enjoy a green and blossoming city every spring.
For example, the Wallenstein Palace, which houses the Senate of the Czech Republic, boasts beautiful Baroque gardens, the Avenue of Statues with original sculptures by Adrian de Vries, three fountains, a fishpond with the statue of Hercules, and an artificial wall with grottoes, among other attractions. Moreover, during the warmer season, you can attend all kinds of free events in the park - for example, concerts of the Cultural Summer.
Other noteworthy parks to see in spring include Vojan Park, famous for its peacocks, and Letna Park, full of lilacs and offering a jaw-dropping view of the Vltava River and its landmark bridges. Wherever you are in Prague in the spring, the city will seduce you.