Fortress in central Bohemia, Czech Republic, on a cliff above the River Berounka, c. 30 km south-west of Prague. It was built by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, to protect the crown jewels and state treasure of the Empire, and its unique design was greatly influenced by the presence of the holy relics. It retains much of its important programme of painted decoration (see §2 below). The foundation stone was laid on 10 June 1348 by Arnošt of Pardubice, Archbishop of Prague, and by 1355 the Emperor was already living there. In 1357 he founded the castle chapel, and in the same year two chapels—to the Stigmata and the Virgin—were consecrated.
The core of the castle lies behind a massive inner wall with the outer castle in front of it; there are two gates and an independently fortified residential quarter with a moat and well tower. The buildings of the inner castle (the palace, Church Tower and Great Tower) are built on three stepped terraces, the design reflecting Karlštejn’s special function....