Praha 1, Town of Hradčany

3rd courtyard of Prague Castle

Exceptional area with archaeological monuments - evidence of wooden and stone buildings and fortifications from 10.-12. century presented in situ.

The monument is not normally accessible; it is partially accessible at extraordinary exhibitions at the Old Royal Palace; entry is exceptionallyopen to the professional public.

The third courtyard is situated above the western part of the former early medieval residence of Bohemian princes and kings and the location of the most important structures such as the rotunda and later basilica of St Vitus. There were also dwellings of soldiers and perhaps the prince’s palace whose location remains unknown. A fortification ran through its southern part in several stages; over time, the line shifted towards the south, enlarging the area of the residence. There were also burial sites in the area of the third courtyard. The ‘warrior’s grave’ of a man in an oak coffin who was buried with a sword, axe, dagger, knife, pail, and sharpening steel, so exceptional for its equipment, is sometimes dated in the second half of the 9th century. Several other burial sites were uncovered nearby, some of them being arranged in several layers. It cannot be assessed whether these graves belong to the burial ground near St Vitus Church or whether it is an earlier burial ground. There is evidence of other graves found in the third courtyard, which are verifiably related to burials that after the 11th century gradually surrounded St Vitus Basilica built by Spytihněv. In 1060, the basilica replaced the original rotunda.

The third courtyard reconstruction was part of the extensive project of Prague Castle reconstruction which became residence of the first Czechoslovak president in 1918. The courtyard area, originally divided into several levels and separated by a terrain trench reaching from the Lesser Town basin to the top of the promontory, was levelled by a concrete structure into a united representative area. Under its paving, one of the most valuable ‘terrain archives’ of archaeological findings in Europe is concealed. Archaeological research of the third courtyard was carried out between 1925 and 1929. As discovered by probes for support pillars of the courtyard plate, the formation was up to 14 metres thick.

In addition to the fragments of the earliest earth and wood fortification with exceptionally preserved wooden reinforcements from the first half of the 10th century, fragments of the 10th and 11th century wooden house development are unique in Europe. The fortification and structures are presented in the context of future development. We may observe the layers which provided evidence of terrain changes and the ensuing Romanesque reconstruction of the castle – the profane buildings and the monumental fortification of marlstone ashlars as well as the church which similar to the Basilica of St George is connected by a corridor with St Vitus Basilica, separating their users from the outside world.

Built in 1929, the compound gives an opportunity even after decades of research to take a look into the real world which was part of everyday life of our ancestors not hundreds but over a thousand years ago. After the Second World War, the compound was closed to public and deteriorated. Archaeologists that returned there in the second half of the 1990s redeveloped the entire compound after rescue and review research, making it accessible at least on exceptional occasions.

Datum vložení: 21.1.2019 | Datum aktualizace: 31.8.2020
Autor: Ivana Boháčová

Použité prameny:
  • Boháčová, I. 2011: Dřevěné konstrukce a využití dřeva v raně středověké opevněné centrální lokalitě. Příklady z Pražského hradu. Památky archeologické 102, 355–400.
  • Boháčová, I. 2015: Prezentace archeologických památek v Čechách. Archeologické areály in situ – příklady z Pražského hradu a Vyšehradu. Archaeologia historica 40/2, 331–351.
  • Boháčová, I. – Kozáková, R. 2008: Přírodní prostředí Pražského hradu a jeho zázemí – výpověď pylové analýzy z raně středověkých sedimentů ze III. nádvoří. Archeologické rozhledy 60, 547–564.