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Karolinum

The Karolinum is a palace situated in Prague’s Old Town, on the corner of the Fruit Market (Ovocný trh) and Železná Street, just a four-minute walk from the Old Town Square. The building was bought to be used for the purposes of the newly founded Charles University by King Wenceslas IV (son of its founder Charles IV) from banker Jan Rotlev in 1383. From that time, the Karolinum served as a dormitory and as such is considered the oldest dormitory in Central Europe. Later, it became the seat of the rector and other academics. The Great Aula is the central area of the building where ceremonial graduations and matriculations take place. The historical building underwent several major changes. At the beginning of the 18th century, it was reconstructed in Baroque style by architect František Maxmilian Kaňka. In the 20th century, the whole complex was reconstructed according to the design by Josef Fragner. In addition, the publishing house of Charles University is named after the Karolinum.

Useful information for visitors

Address: Ovocný trh 5, Prague - Old Town
GPS: 50.08638750, 14.42394310

Public transport connections

Náměstí Republiky bus stop, tram stop, metro station (yellow line)
Můstek metro station (green, yellow line)

Opening hours and admission

The representative spaces of the Karolinum can be visited on special occasions and during graduation events only. There is a permanent exhibition, dedicated to the history of Charles University, situated in the Gothic cellar of the Karolinum. For information about admission fees and opening hours, click here. Other exhibitions are held in the Karolinum Cloisters throughout the year – for more information see the website above.

Interesting facts about Karolinum

A permanent exhibition on the history of Charles University is located in the catacombs of the Karolinum. The exhibition includes some very unique exhibits, such as the copy of the Foundation Charter of Prague University issued by Charles IV in 1348. Visitors can also see a copy of the 14-century seal of Prague University with the portrait of Charles IV handing over the foundation charter to St Wenceslas for protection. This scene even became the current logo of Charles University. Other interesting things to see include the University’s sacral monuments, mainly the reliquary cross with the remains of St John of Nepomuk and the chalice placed in the chapel in the oriel of the Karolinum. Visitors can also see the original Rector’s sceptre dating back to 1883 and the death mask of Jan Palach, a student who burned himself to death in protest against the occupation of Czechoslovakia. The mask was made by sculptor Olbram Zoubek in 1969.

Nearby historical sights