Pruhonice Park Prague

by Czech Republic

Pruhonice Park Prague

For once, a question to begin, and no Googling for 30 seconds. Which of the Prague parks and gardens ins a UNESCO World Heritage Site? It’s a fairly safe bet that relatively few of you came up with the answer, which is Pruhonice Park Prague. If you had asked me a year ago, I wouldn’t have known either.

To say it’s one of the less known things to do in Prague is an understatement. Yet it’s the largest of the major Prague gardens, and Pruhonice Castle, which forms part of the Park, is one of the most exuberant examples of Renaissance Revival Prague architecture. And yet it’s very much a locals’ secret – many of our Prague friends have visited, but the word doesn’t seem to have got out to the wider world. Yet.

In this article we’ll reveal what makes Pruhonice Park so special, and tell you everything you need to get there and back, and enjoy one of the easiest day trips from Prague.

Pruhonice Park Prague – An Introduction

Image of Pruhonice Castle and Park Prague
The neo-Renaissance Pruhonice chateau

Pruhonice Park is one of the least-known Czech UNESCO World Heritage Sites as it comes under the aegis of the Historic Centre of Prague – yet it’s the only one of the outlying attractions in Prague to be included on the World Heritage List

Its Czech spelling is slightly different to that used in other languages – it’s spelt Průhonice, with a tiny circle above the letter u. It’s pronounced ‘Proo-hon-ee-tseh’ with the stress on the first syllable

Pruhonice Park was founded in 1885 by Count Arnošt Emanuel. Silva-Tarouca, who worked on the vast 250-hectare garden over the following 40 years

Image of a stream and meadow in Pruhonice Park near Prague
A meadow and the Botic stream, a classic Pruhonice Park landscape

The Park is set in the valley of the Botič stream and its tributaries, the Dobřejovický and Zdiměřický

The design of Pruhonice Park is unique. especially in the way woodland plants and trees are combined with open spaces such as meadows, ponds and trees

Count Silva-Tarouca also used the seasonal changes of woodland plants and trees to great effect

The stunning Pruhonice Castle and lake below only take up a tiny corner of the Park

Where is Pruhonice?

Image of the loggia at Pruhonice Castle Prague
One of the first things you see at Pruhonice is the Castle loggia

Pruhonice is a small village just beyond the Prague city boundary in the Central Bohemia region. It’s just beyond the south-eastern outskirts of Prague.

Getting to Pruhonice

Image of the church outside Pruhonice Castle Prague
The fine 12th century church in the grounds of Pruhonice Park

Pruhonice is easy to reach if you’re travelling there by yourself. The main thing to remember is that it’s beyond the boundary of Prague city, so you’ll need to get a ticket for the short return bus journey to Pruhonice.

Firstly, take the red Metro line C to Opatov, the last-but-one stop on the line before the terminus at Haje. Two buses run from outside – and above – Opatov station to Pruhonice – the 363 and 385.  

Image of Labeska pond in Pruhonice Park Prague
Deep in the woods: Labeska Pond

A Prague public transport day pass or multi-day ticket will cover you as far as Opatov.  The onward tickets to Pruhonice can either be bought from the driver or from the yellow ticket machines at Metro stations all over Prague.

Pruhonice is in zone 1 of the nine Prague Integrated Transport (PID) tariff zones for Central Bohemia. Select ‘Prague and Suburbs’ from the menu along the top of the screen, then buy two 12 Kc tickets covering two zones, 24 Kc in total. Validate the ticket in the machine when you board the bus – they each run once an hour. You can find a full explanation of the PID tariff zones here – this is especially if you intend to visit other places around Prague.  

How much are tickets to Pruhonice Park and Castle?

Image of the path through the Apline plants section at Pruhonice Park Prague
The path along the Alpinum at Pruhonice

Admission for adults is 100 Kc ($4). Children, students and seniors pay 60 Kc each, and a family ticket (2+2) costs 260 Kc ($11).

What are the Pruhonice Park opening times?

Image of the Alpine section of Pruhonice Park near Prague
Another part of the Alpinum

The Park is open all year, unlike the formal gardens in Prague city centre including the Vrtba Garden and Wallenstein Gardens.

During the winter months (January, February, November, December) Pruhonice is open 0800 to 1700 daily. It is open between 0800 and 1800 in March.

Pruhonice is open 0700-1900 in April and October, and from 0800-2000 from M<ay to September.

What is Pruhonice Castle like?

Image of Pruhonice Castle and Park near Prague
Pruhonice Castle and one of several lakes in the Park

 Pruhonice Castle is the least-known of the castles in Prague and around, despite it being home to one of the best parks in Prague.

It was built in the late 19th century in a neo-Renaissance style, its tower and turrets giving it the appearance of a French chateau. Visually, it’s one of the most beautiful Czech castles, and its lakeside setting is magnificent. The triple archway in the courtyard is inspired by the similar Sala Terrena in the Wallenstein Garden.

Image of an exhibition room inside Pruhonice Castle near Prague
An exhibition inside Pruhonice Castle

You can walk around the exterior of the building, including the lovely Renaissance courtyard. It’s also possible to explore some of the ground floor rooms which house exhibitions on the history of Pruhonice and a broader one on European gardens.

What are the main things to see in Pruhonice?

Image of Pruhonice Castle from the main viewpoint
The Castle from the main viewpoint in the woods

The Castle is the obvious place to start, and as one of the outstanding castles near Prague, it’s reason enough to visit the Park. The lakeside walk is wonderful, with several benches either side to pause and take in the view. The east side has the better views of the Castle, and also passes below the Alpinum, or Alpine Garden.

Image of the Gloriet Tower at Pruhonice Park Prague
The Gloriet Tower has fine treetop views

The Park’s Main Viewpoint (pictured above) is a 15-minute walk through the woods from the two lakes. It’s well worth the short walk as you get a great sight of the Castle through the trees. You pass a pathway to the Botanical Garden on the way, and this area is where you’ll see the best of the rhododendrons in spring.

A few minutes further on, climb the stairs on the exterior of the Gloriet Tower for another fine view – this time over the surrounding treetops and meadow below.

Image of the Czech Cottage at Pruhonice Park Prague
The Czech Cottage is on the yellow route near the Labeska lake

The yellow route continues along the streams, over bridges and past cascades, eventually leading to the Labeška Pond, and a traditional wooden Czech cottage in the trees above the shore.

There is also a 12th century Romanesque church near the entrance to the Castle grounds and Park, which is sometimes, but not always, open.

When is the best time to visit Pruhonice?

Image of a bench in Pruhonice Park near Prague
Summer in Pruhonice Park

I visited in summer, when the Castle and Park looked superb, but if you want to do the full walk – there are additional paths beyond the longest red tour route – isummer isn’t the best season for it.

If you’re visiting Prague in springtime, you’re in for a treat. It’s one of the best places to visit in Prague at this time of year, with hundreds of rhododendron bushes flowering, usually in May.

Image of a dragon water spout in the Pruhonice Park
A dragon water spout on the Gloriet Tower

Prague in autumn can be magical, with the forest turning shades of gold, red and more, and I’ll add images from this time of year to the post after I’ve visited.

Finally, if you visit Prague in winter, sunshine may be at a premium, but it’s a wonderful place to walk off some of the cold weather cobwebs.  

How long do you need to spend at Pruhonice Park?

Image of tour route signs Pruhonicky Park Prague
Tour routes this way, soon to diverge

The Pruhonice Park website suggests three different tour routes, and how long you spend there depends on how far you wish to explore this unique Prague park.

The shortest – blue – route is 2.5 km long, and includes the Castle, lake, Main Viewpoint and most of the rhododendrons which flower in May.

I opted for the yellow route, the middle option at around 6 km. This follows the blue route before continuing along the Botič valley past some of the meadows that are such an important part of the Pruhonice landscape. This route shows you more of the subtleties in the landscape design of Count Silva-Tarouca, and when I return in a few months’ time I’ll be heading the same way.

The red route is the longest, and continues to the furthest reaches of the Park, to the former game park. I explored some of it, and it’s essentially more of the same as the yellow route, albeit without any particular sights. It’s possibly best on an autumn, winter or spring day – certainly not one for a hot Prague summer day.

DAVID ANGEL

DAVID ANGEL

AUTHOR

David Angel is a British writer, historian and photographer. He has been travelling and photographing Europe for over 20 years and his work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the Guardian, BBC, Times and Sunday Times.

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