Krivoklat Castle – One of the best Czech Castles (& tips for your visit)

Krivoklat Castle

Krivoklat Castle is one of the great royal Czech castles, and one of the most essential places to visit in the Czech Republic. Along with Prague Castle, Cesky Krumlov, Karlstejn Castle and Konopiště, it’s one of the absolute must-see castles in the Czech Republic.

The Castle occupies a stunning site high above a narrow wooded valley in the Křivoklátsko, a lovely scenic hilly area to the west of Prague. From the outside, it’s a wonderful romantic castle, and it’s easily accessible, one of the more straightforward Prague day trips.

Our Křivoklát Castle guide tells you everything you need to know about this outstanding Bohemian castle, including when to visit, what to see in and around the Castle and the all-important how to get there.  Much as we love Prague, we encourage visitors to venture beyond the capital, and this is one of the best places to visit near Prague to get you started.

Krivoklat Castle – An Introduction

Image of Kirvoklat Castle Czech Republic
Krivoklat Castle

Křivoklát is one of the oldest royal castles of the Czech Republic

It’s located around 50 km (30 miles) due west of Prague

It’s pronounced Kr-Zhee-vo-klaat in Czech – don’t worry, many Czechs have to have special tuition to correctly pronounce the letter ř

Image of the entrance to Krivoklat Castle in the Czech Republic
The approach to Krivoklat Castle

Its name may have been derived from ‘křivy’ and ‘’klaty’, which roughly translate as crooked trees which once surrounded it

The name may also have come from ‘křivy’ and ‘plát’, meaning uneven ground – on which the Castle may have been built

It’s usually known as Hrad Křivoklát in Czech

Křivoklat Castle History

Image of the doorway at Krivoklat Castle
The splendid door at Krivoklat

Krivoklat was founded in the 13th century by the Přemyslid dynasty, who also founded Vysehrad Castle in Prague

Its heyday was under Přemysl Otakar II, who reigned as King of Bohemia between 1253 and 1278, whose domains stretched all the way south to the Adriatic Sea

Another great Bohemian King, Charles IV (responsible for the Charles Bridge Prague) also lived there, but Křivoklat began to decline when his other castle at Karlštejn was completed

Image of the sundial at Krivoklat Castle
The sundial in the courtyard at Krivoklat

The Castle was destroyed by fire twice, used as a prison, then sold off to aristocratic families including the Schwarzenbergs, Valdštejns and Furstenbergs

It was eventually sold to the Czechoslovakian State in 1929

Křivoklát Castle Viewpoints

Image of Krivoklat Castle in the Czech Republic

Most of the Krivoklat Castle photos you will have seen have been shot from the same area, a couple of hundred metres or so from the Castle itself. There are no others simply because of the forested landscape – you get the occasional glimpse of the Castle through the trees, but very few open views of it.

The three viewpoints are very close to each other. One is next to the statue of Charles Egon II of Furstenberg, which is visible from the roadside, and a two-minute walk away. There is a second viewpoint around 20-30 metres further south along the path.

What To See In Krivoklat Castle Without Joining A Tour

Image of the courtyard at Krivoklat Castle
The courtyard at Krivoklat

The Krivoklat Castle ticket office is in the left-hand side of the gatehouse, and there is also a great shop where you can buy some excellent books on Czech Republic castles. You don’t need to buy a ticket to enter the main courtyard of the Castle. There is a small craft and souvenir shop on the right, and further down, a small café serving soups, sausages and two or three other meals daily. They also serve coffee, cake and the excellent local Bakalař beer.

You can also wander around the western end of the Castle, and can climb the ramparts for a view of the Castle interior, and the small tower next to it.

Křivoklát Castle Tours

Image of medieval angel sculptures at Krivoklat Castle
Angel sculptures at Krivoklat

There are four Krivoklat Castle tours that you can join, three of which are guided. The exception is the Castle Walls and Tower Tour, which are self-guided. You normally encounter several tour options when visiting castles of Czech Republic – you often have to go on at least two tours to see everything, sometimes more (at castles like Konopište, for example). In some cases, you can’t get to see the whole castle in a single visit.

The full Křivoklát Castle tour only runs on one weekend in June and then from the beginning of July to late September.

Image of the courtyard anmd cafe at Krivoklat Castle
The cafe and courtyard at Krivoklat

The self-guided Walls and Tower Tour runs from late May to the end of August, with closures on some days.

The longer of the two Gothic Palaces tours – which we took – is the most regular tour, and runs on winter weekends. This is very worthwhile, and it gives you a great overview of the Castle and its history. The shorter Gothic Palaces tour doesn’t even start running until late June, then runs intermittently throughout the second half of the year.

Simplicity is not the name of the game here!

Krivoklat Castle Gothic Palaces Tour – What You See

Image of the altar in the Chapel at Krivoklat Castle
The main altar in the Krivoklat Castle Chapel

The tour starts in the second courtyard, with soaring arches on one side and the main. tower on the other.  You start by seeing the Castle prison and dungeon – it’s amazing that one of the finest castles near Prague should be reduced to this, but it’s a common story among medieval castles in Europe. One of the cells contains the dreadful ‘iron maiden’, a horrific torture instrument.

The fine late Gothic royal chapel is one of the Castle’s highlights, dating from the 15th to 17th centuries. You then move on to the Knights’ Hall and Royal Hall – the former currently houses an exhibition of Gothic religious art, including a copy of the late 14th century illuminated Wenceslas Bible.

Image of old volumes at the Krivoklat Castle Library
Centuries-old volumes from the Krivoklat Library

As with places like Blatna Castle which have been almost continuously occupied, you also get to see how the Castle’s later aristocratic occupants lived and shaped the Castle. We were hugely impressed by the Library, one of the most important in the Czech Republic, and you can stand close to the shelves and see some of the centuries-old volumes up close, a privilege indeed. Some documents there date back to the 10th century.

The tour concludes with the Fürstenbergs’ Portrait Room and a small Museum containing a collection of their artefacts and art collection.

Getting To Krivoklat Castle From Prague

Image of the entrance to Krivoklat Castle
This way to Krivoklat, ladies and gentlemen

We’ve travelled to Křivoklát Castle twice from Prague, and made the journey by train both times.  If you’re planning day trips from Prague, there is no point going about it any other way. A 90-minute journey each way, no carbon footprint – ideal.

Czech Railways – České dráhy – run regular services from Prague Central Station – Praha hlavní nádraži – to Beroun, calling at Prague Smichov station (Praha Smichovské nádraži) en route.  You then get 5 minutes to transfer for the S75 train to Rakovník, which usually departs from platform 1 (naštupište 1), just to the right of the doorways into the station entrance hall.

It’s normally a two-carriage service, and upcoming stationjs are regularly displayed above the doors of the carriage as well as being announced. The station you require, Křivoklát, is, perhaps surprisingly, a request stop (zastávka na znamení). So you’ll need to press one of the small red  buttons (marked ‘na znameni)’ after leaving the station before, Roztoky na Křivoklátu.

Once you’ve alighted the train, head right down the footpath, crossing the bridge over the stream to reach the centre of the village. Then, depending on your fitness, it’s a 5-10 minute walk up the hill (not much in the way of pavement / sidewalk, so you’re aware) to the Castle entrance on the left.

Alternatively, if you’re on a Czech Republic road trip, it’s on the 227 road between Rakovník and Beroun. It’s 50 km west of Prague, but because of the geography of the surrounding area the drive from Prague would be longer, taking an hour or so in all.

Krivoklat Castle Day Tours From Prague

Image of Krivoklat Castle Czechia
Krivoklat Castle

A day tour from Prague is an easier option , and you also get to see more, with optional hotel p[ick-up and drop-off.

This tour takes you to Krivoklat Castle and also includes a visit to a Bohemian glass workshop or local brewery, depending on the time of year you book.

Krivoklat Castle Opening Times

Partly due to its royal status, Křivoklát Castle tends to stay open later in the year than many castles in Czech Republic. It remains open on weekends over most of the winter months, while many close completely between late October and early May.

The Krivoklat official site’s opening times page gives full information on this, including which tours are open when.

Krivoklat Village

There are several small restaurants in the village below the Castle, including the Krivoklat Hospudka Pohoda, which serves classic traditional Czech dishes. The Hotel Sykora also serves some of these, as well as a range of pizzas.

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David Angel
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing Europe for over 25 years.  His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times.