Visiting Karlštejn Castle With a Dog

Writing this blog and keeping our promise to you, dear Reader, to report on pet friendliness we find in the world, keeps me focused when I sit down and pull my thoughts into something coherent to share with you. When I started thinking about my time in the Czech Republic, I was tempted to start big with my first instalment on Prague, but re-thought that approach and decided to start with my favourite castle instead. Why? Well, it turns out the Czech Republic has the most castles within a country in all of Europe, AND, importantly, this one also allowed me INSIDE to tour! So I just had to start with Karlštejn Castle!

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A glimpse!

It took only about an hour to get there by train, for a fare of about $8.00 per person return from Prague. Trains in the Czech Republic are pet friendly, so no worries there. Just let them know when you purchase your ticket. Small dogs IN a bag go for free but any dog–even small ones that can fit in a bag but are not in it–have to pay. It’s a small fee and you can pay it on the train directly. So it’s really not something to worry about.

Visiting Karlštejn Castle With a Dog

See the ticket master bottom right? yeah he soon loved me!

Upon Arrival

When you arrive in Karlštejn, you have a few options as you leave the train station. You can’t see the castle from the station, but it is within walking distance.  About 25 minute walk. Or you can take a cab. Honestly, the fee for the cab was so low (about 54 Czech Koruna; with the exchange rate it was $3 Canadian per person and free for me) that we decided to cab it to the castle, saving us some time to enjoy a much slower hike back. So off we went!

Visiting Karlštejn Castle With a Dog

Such a nice drive! seriously!

Cars can’t drive through the historical town and have to completely circumvent the entire pedestrian area. But the roundabout route is a beautiful drive in the countryside and woods. We just sat back and enjoyed the view. We were dropped off just a few feet away from where the pedestrian road meets the only road to the castle. Finally, from there we could spot the large looming towers of the castle.

Visiting Karlštejn Castle With a Dog

Just in case you did not SEE the castle tower – the arrow certainly was clear!

But by now it was nearly lunch and so we stopped for a little something to eat. We enjoyed the warm sun and delicious food. I was allowed to join in without any trouble. They even brought me a big bowl of water and then laughed when I took advantage of a moment of inattention from the bipeds to let myself into the restaurant and kitchen. I was returned to the bipeds in the arms of our lovely waitress, who giggled and tried to explain that the cook had given me some goulash. YUM!

So with full belies and a happy heart, we walked the few feet to the castle’s main entrance.

At the Castle

Wow. That view. It took a moment to soak it all in. It was just so beautiful. It helped that we happened to be enjoying some seriously good weather. The sun was out and, although well into September, it was t-shirt and shorts for the bipeds.

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Passing the main gate!

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and what a view!!

Dad went to the ticket desk to see if a handoff was going to be needed. To our utter delight, he was informed that so long as I stayed in my sling bag … I was most welcome to join my bipeds on the next available English tour. YAY! Done and done! Dad bought the tickets, then with about 20 minutes to wait until our tour started, we visited the parts of the castle walls that are free to roam. I did this on my leash, happy as can be!

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The ticket booth is oddly tucked out of sight behind that kiosk.

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It’s rather majestic!

We started with the Well Tower. Key to the success of the castle was its own water supply within its walls. The old wooden treadwheel used for hauling water (a two person job) sits boldly in the middle of the gift shop. It’s a hoot!

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SO warm … and loving it! Mom is soaking up the heat AND the view!

Note: Touring the interior of the castle is done in two parts. If you want to see the Grand Tower, St. Mary’s Tower, or the Holy Rood Chapel, famous for the more than 2,000 precious and semiprecious inlaid gems adorning its walls, you MUST make a reservation. That tour (Tour 2) fills up way in advance; you will not be able to get in if you just show up. Please keep this in mind to avoid disappointment. (You can buy tickets and make reservations online.) Tour 1 usually has some room. It includes the Imperial Palace, the Royal Bedroom, and the Hall of Knights (or Vassals’ Hall).

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The walls are actually very impressive!

Karlštejn (or Karlstein) is an imposing Gothic castle, and because it’s so close to Prague, it’s one of the most visited castle in the Czech Republic. Built in 1348 for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV (who was also confusingly the king of Bohemia and more — the dude had like four crowns!), the castle was designed as a residence not just as a fort.

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That is some nice digs.

The castle was also a treasury, where the royal insignia, crowns, and jewels were to be stored. There were also lots of documents, works of art, and relics. All of it was defensible from pretty much any angle, including the Grand Tower where everything could be kept and where the last bridge could be destroyed to keep invaders out. The castle was, by the way, never – not once – starved out. It survived every siege.

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Yep – that is me INSIDE the castle!

The first floor of the Grand Tower has two rooms that were turned into a museum in the 19th century. More interesting is the Imperial Palace above, which was used by courtiers, with the second floor used by the emperor himself. The Holy Cross Chapel is stellar with a large collection of 129 portraits of saints and monarchs.

St. Mary’s Tower with its St. Catherine’s Chapel is unique. It was used as a quiet room and a place for contemplation by Charles the IV. The chapel is tiny but the walls are richly decorated with semi-precious stones, including a lot of amber, imbedded into the wall.

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and stellar fresco!

However, what I enjoyed the most was the tour of the actual Imperial Palace. There was something fascinating about the Vassals’ Hall, where the knights would sleep on the floor with their gear. Each had their own cabinet, though, to store their personal things.

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The madonna

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Like this. So each knight had one. But no bed. They would lay out their bedroll (that would fit on the horse) in front. Store it during the day. Each would have the family coat of arms.

And I enjoyed the first floor with it’s really beautiful ceilings, which was used by the courtiers.

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I mean – wow!

And then there were the emperor’s private chambers and his bed …

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They slept almost sitting up.

And the statue of the Madonna in the bedchamber, guarding the door that lead to the queen’s room. It was interesting, not so much because of the statue itself, but because the door has an interesting feature: it can’t be opened from the other side. In other words, the king could go to the queen at any time, but she could not enter his room without having to knock at the door. Hmm …

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Pretty simple space really.

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That’s Charles the IV bellow

And then there were the little mind games, like putting the throne between two windows to create an effect that basically blinded anyone looking at the throne and thus masking the king’s face. Talk about a poker face trick!

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rare to see a green space INSIDE the castle like this.Maybe they had dogs?

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Crossing the bridge from one tower to the other!

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always keeping him in the shadows!

After we had a nature break and gazed out at the view for a bit longer, we headed back toward the train station. We walked down the mostly pedestrian street. Little shops dot each side. It was late in the tourist season so all was really quiet, but I have heard that it can be shoulder to shoulder in the summer months.

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On our way out! Was FUN!

I was glad to have a chance to see the castle crowd free, giving me the opportunity to notice small details, like the little bridges over little moats separating the houses from the main street. And really lovely art.

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so pretty!

 

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Funky!!!

Then the street ended. We turned left toward the train station, and since we had about 25 minutes until the next train, we stopped at the restaurant across the street. Dad ordered a coffee and Mom some sparkling water. Then, quietly, with about 5 minutes to go, we walked over, crossed to the second platform and hopped on our train back to Prague.

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yep! pet friendly!

In review: Karlštejn castle is a must see with your dog. Small dogs are even allowed inside! The only thing that you really must be cautious about is ensuring you order your tickets for the Grand Tower and St. Mary’s Tower in advance.

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fake? whaaaaaat???

And while you are at it, ask if the crown jewels are actually going to be there. When we visited, we got replicas! The real ones were touring the country. Grr. But the castle is still absolutely worth the visit!

Visiting Karlštejn Castle with a dog is an amazing way to spend a day in the Czech Republic! Just go!

44 Comments on “Visiting Karlštejn Castle With a Dog

  1. Hi Monte,
    Great review as always. I have to ashamingly (is that a word?) admit that although I grew up in the Czech Republic, I have actually never made it to Karlštejn!! Every time I come back for a visit I’m always running fitting everything and everyone in. I hope we will get to see it some day.

    As luck would have it though, on our last trip to Czech we were touring a chateau Valtice in south Moravia, and happen to see the real Crown Jewels that were touring the country as you mentioned. What luck! I wish I could post the photo of the real thing here, but I can’t. I’ll try to post it on your FB profile.

    Love,
    Michaela, Oliver, & Chloe

    • Oooooh I saw the CROWN on my FB page!! So gorgeous!! wow! thank you so much for sharing that photo with us. And go…. you’ll love it. I promise.

  2. As always, big thanks for writing on dog friendly places. I really love your take on this article. I can’t seem to read enough articles about this.

    • We do try! We want people to see just HOW much one can travel to fun places with a pet.

  3. What an awesome review and I’m so glad that you were able to enjoy it with your pup! I love learning about different pet friendly places for travel (it seems like we have so few of them in the United States and I’ve heard even fewer outside of the US). This is actually one of the places my husband wants to badly visit again when we go to Europe. :)

    • I would have to disagree on the the outside the US … We have been travelling now for 6+ years and I would actually say that North America is so far the least pet friendly destination we’ve visited. Other than taking your pet on a hike or park there is little you can do. Some states allow pets to dine on patios but they are the exception rather than the rule. Europe on the other hand has allowed us to dine indoors and outdoors, take public transportation, visit museums, most parks and so much more … :)

  4. First off, Karlštejn Castle looks like an amazing place to visit! And all the more wonderful that you can do so with your dog. That is awesome! Your pictures are gorgeous and it looks like it was a wonderful day for both the humans and the dog!

    • One of those “makes you smiles months later still” kind of days!

    • thank you! we DO try and make sure the photos give a good feel for the place. It’s not always easy.

  5. I want to visit this country – especially Prague. When I was in my 20s, it was the new Paris and everyone I knew (but me) has gone. I won’t be able to take my dog Victor, though, because I won’t check him on a plane. I wish I could carry him. That’s been an issue for me travelling alone – sometimes missing out on the inside of stuff.

    • Yeah on your own is tricky BUT I have found that if you book via airBnB you can have a local hook you up with someone willing to meet you on location and mind your pet for you. It’s worked for a friend of mine that travels with her BIG dog. :)

  6. You guys seriously go to THE coolest spots… and you find so many amazing ones that are dog friendly too! LOVE all the photos… Penny is so going to be jealous. She thought she had the life… lol

    • LOL … well we’ve been at it for over 6 years so practice right? Knowing what to look for, how to manage it if it’s not pet friendly once on location etc. makes it easier to just go for it!

  7. Looks like an amazing trip! Love the pictures and it’s good to read about dog friendly places in advance. Makes trip planning easier.

    • Indeed. I always wish that travel guide books would include that little extra info. I do tend to call or email ahead.

  8. I visited that castle many years ago – all the history is impressive and you took some great photos. I didn’t know it was dog-friendly.

    • It’s always a nice little extra. For the most part, the castles we have visited in Europe – the grounds are pet friendly. Inside is hit and miss. But we go and find out! Then report back.

  9. Great post and although I have personally travelled a lot I have never done it with a dog so its great to know that it is possible

    • Having a pup and travel are not mutually exclusive! We’ve been at it for 6+ years!

  10. What a beautiful place!! Wish we had places like this here in the U.S.! So cool you were able to bring your pup!

    • There are a few castles in the US sadly we have yet to find one that is pet friendly. I think that is why we travel to Europe more.

    • We have yet to find a European country that does not allow dogs on trains. Buses can have some exceptions but on the whole it’s pretty darn pet friendly!

  11. That castle is SO exquisite! Montecristo is adorable checking the place out, he has such confidence. I’m constantly amazed at how many places you go that are dog friendly, that’s so wonderful. I just moved back to Long Island, NY from Phoenix and I swear there are nothing but “No Dogs Allowed” signs everywhere you look. The guy that makes these signs must be a mega millionaire, LOL!! Thanks for sharing this adventure with us.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv them

    • I feel your pain. We go to Europe every year to get away from the “no dogs allowed” signs. I DO wish North America would relax a bit. :)

  12. How beautiful and can’t believe that they let dogs tour the castle. What a great place to explore. I have not been there yet but can’t wait.

  13. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us – they are cathartic, beautiful and happy! Karlštejn Castle is truly a glorious place – and our favorite photo was you two warming in the sun! Sassy and sweet all at the same time :)

  14. I really enjoyed reading this and think it’s amazing you travel abroad with your dog. This castle is incredible – I really need to start making some plans to get over to Europe with my husband. I cannot believe you can bring dogs inside! SO COOL!

  15. As someone who always travels with her dog, I would love to visit here. Thank you for opening yourself up and sharing these fab pics and the experience. It sounds lovely!

  16. Wonderful photos! It looks like an amazing castle. It must be that much more enjoyable when all three of you can tour a place together.

  17. Amazing tour. It’s interesting how the castle was so well defensible. And I think you’d like Portland! I think it’s probably one of the most dog-friendly places in North America.

  18. My gosh how beautiful! And you photos always show so well. I wish is was as dog friendly were I am. It seems that there are so few places I can go that allow dogs and I have to either leave Edie at home or I just don’t go.

  19. I so love being an armchair traveler here and seeing this amazing trip! My daughter loves castles and their histories, I’m going to share your post with her! Love the pics and feeling as though if I closed my eyes…I could be there! And love that this is all pet-friendly! Awesome post.

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