There are only few parts of Prague that are as packed with sights as Hradčany. It’s an area that lies roughly in front of the Prague Castle (in fact, Prague Castle takes up almost half of Hradčany), which was first inhabited in the 13th century. However, the very first document establishing Hradčany as a district comes from the 14th century. Even though it lay directly in front of the Prague Castle, it had never been a rich part of Prague. That all changed after the great fire of Prague in 1541, when two thirds of buildings on this side of the river burned down.
Not many regular people had enough money to pay for restorations, therefore they sold their properties to nobles (who of course, wanted to be close to the king). Over the next few centuries, literally dozens of palaces were built in this area, making it a part of Prague, where the most common type of building is a palace.
Just to give you a perspective, here is a tiny summary of some palaces you can find here:
Palaces within Hradcany
Prague Castle (sight and a seat of Czech president)
Archbishop’s palace (seat of Prague’s archbishop)
Salmovsky palace (used by National museum for various exhibitions)
Schwarzenberg palace (the most beautiful renaissance palace in Prague, used as a museum of the baroque period in Bohemia)
Tuscany palace (gorgeous purely baroque palace, used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Cernin Palace (the seat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Loreta (one of the Prague’s most important monasteries)
And the list could go on and on. So if you have enough time, just take one afternoon and walk or cycle around those gorgeous buildings. Some of them are literally gems of our national history. You can get quite a good feel for these sights just by walking around, but to learn even more, take one of our Absolute or Yellow Zebra tours.