the most “castle”-like section of the Prague Castle that I visited was the Old Royal Palace, which occupies a chunk of the southern wing of the structure. the most striking feature of the wing is Vladislav Hall, which, Lonely Planet tells me, is famous for its beautiful, late-Gothic vaulted roof, rough wooden floors and vast, rustic spaces. of course for some reason photography was prohibited in the entirety of the Old Royal Palace, so you will have to imagine this impressive, high-vaulted space that was used for royal purposes like coronation festivities beginning in the 16th century. three original halls were combined into one space that became the “biggest vaulted interior space in Europe without inner supports”. despite the impressive ceiling and impressive spaciousness, the Hall still felt rather Medieval. stand at one end and you can see all the way into the chapel at the other end. to be honest, I’ve seen dining halls in stately homes more impressive. of course, those don’t have the weight of history. in the late 1990s, the Bohemian tradition of electing kings in the Hall was resurrected when members of parliament crowded into the space to elect the Czechoslovak/Czech president (the ceremony has since moved to a larger, more stately room in the palace).
the most unique aspect of Vladislav Hall, however, I have not seen replicated elsewhere. during rainy weather among many, many other things the Hall was used for jousting. I don’t know quite how mounted riders could get up to speed with such a relatively short start but that doesn’t seem to have mattered. the entrance to the Hall from the courtyard is sufficiently tall and wide to let a mounted soldier gallop up the stairs and into the space. I wager they cleared out the market stalls that occupied the space at other times (so that nobles needn’t mingle with the filth that roamed the streets of the city down the hill or across the river). although sealed up somewhat against the elements now, the Riders’ Staircase is wider and more stately than the castle entrance gate facing towards the city.