Prague castle guard change

The Changing of the Guard at Prague Castle is a captivating and grand spectacle, steeped in tradition and military pomp. It’s a ceremony that attracts visitors from around the world, eager to witness a slice of Czech history and culture. Here’s an in-depth look at this fascinating event.

Historical Background

Prague Castle, a symbol of Czech history and sovereignty, has been the seat of power for kings, emperors, and presidents for centuries. The tradition of the Changing of the Guard dates back to the establishment of an independent Czechoslovakia in 1918. The guards are not just ceremonial; they are an elite unit responsible for the security of the Czech President and the castle.

The Ceremony

The Changing of the Guard occurs daily at Prague Castle, but the most elaborate performance is at 12:00 noon. This event involves a series of precise and choreographed movements, executed with military precision.

Key Elements

  • Fanfare: The ceremony is accompanied by a fanfare, adding to the solemn and regal atmosphere.
  • Flag Ceremony: At noon, there’s also a flag ceremony in the first courtyard, where the national flag is exchanged.
  • Uniforms: The guards wear distinct blue uniforms in the summer and dark blue in the winter, with the traditional hat known as a “šajkača.”

The Guard

The Castle Guard is a specific and elite unit of the Czech Armed Forces. These soldiers are carefully selected and undergo rigorous training to perform their duties with the utmost discipline and professionalism.

Selection and Training

  • Physical Requirements: Guards must meet specific height and fitness criteria.
  • Training: They receive training in ceremonial duties, as well as in combat and protection skills to ensure the safety of the castle and its inhabitants.

Best Places to Watch

The ceremony can be observed from various spots within the first courtyard of Prague Castle. Visitors often gather in front of the main gate for a clear view. Arriving early is advisable to secure a good spot, as the event is a popular attraction.

Timing and Duration

  • Daily Guards Change: Occurs every hour on the hour from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM. This hourly change is a simpler affair but still interesting to watch.
  • Noon Ceremony: The most elaborate ceremony, including the flag exchange, happens at 12:00 PM and lasts about 20 minutes.

Visitor Tips

  • Arrival Time: For the noon ceremony, aim to arrive at least 15-20 minutes early.
  • Photography: Visitors are welcome to take photos, but it’s important to respect the guards and avoid obstructing their duties.
  • Weather Conditions: The ceremony takes place regardless of the weather, offering a unique experience in different seasons.

Cultural Significance

The Changing of the Guard at Prague Castle is more than a tourist attraction; it’s a symbol of Czech statehood and national pride. It reflects the country’s rich history and its journey through various political regimes. For visitors, it offers a glimpse into the ceremonial

aspects of Czech military tradition and the solemn respect with which they treat their symbols of national identity.

After the Ceremony

Following the Changing of the Guard, visitors can explore the various historical and architectural marvels of Prague Castle. The castle complex houses several ancient buildings, including St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, and the Golden Lane. Each offers its unique history and charm, making the visit to Prague Castle a rich and fulfilling experience.


The Changing of the Guard ceremony is accessible to everyone and free of charge. This inclusivity ensures that visitors of all ages and abilities can enjoy this traditional event.

Seasonal Variations

While the core elements of the ceremony remain consistent, slight variations may occur during different seasons or on special occasions. These variations add a unique flavor to each viewing.

In summary, witnessing the Changing of the Guard at Prague Castle is an experience that blends historical significance with ceremonial splendor. It’s an opportunity to witness a living tradition that continues to be a source of pride and cultural identity for the Czech people. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a lover of military rituals, or simply looking for a unique cultural experience, the Changing of the Guard at Prague Castle is an event that should not be missed.