The Prague Castle site is undoubtedly the most important historical monument in the Czech Republic. It has been the seat of political and religious power since the 9th century and consists of a very large complex of palaces, churches, courtyards and gardens overlooking the Prague panorama.
On this elevated site, a first wooden fortification was built in the 9th century to protect the residence of the Přemyslid princes ruling the Bohemian kingdom. Inside the walls, the first stone buildings were churches built next to the still wooden palace: the Church of Our Lady (9th century, now disappeared: some archaeological traces are still visible, however), the Church and Convent of St. George (10th century, rebuilt several times), the Rotunda of St. Vitus (10th century, approximately on the site of the choir of the present-day cathedral).
The site of Prague Castle was thus the political and religious centre of Prague and the kingdom from that time on. The castle itself, a princely, royal and then imperial residence, was gradually developed over the centuries, mainly under Emperor Charles IV (14th century), King Vladislav Jagellon (late 15th - early 16th century), Emperor Rudolf II Habsburg (16th - early 17th century), and Empress Maria Theresa Habsburg (18th century). After the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, it naturally became the seat of the new President of the Czechoslovak Republic.
Today it remains the official residence of the Czech president. The religious buildings are also of great importance: the current St. Vitus Cathedral is the seat of the Prague Archbishopric, and houses many artistic and religious treasures, and the St. George's Basilica, the necropolis of several Přemyslid rulers, is one of the most beautiful Romanesque monuments in Prague.