A special atmosphere reigns in the little street by the Prague Castle, called the Golden Lane. It is lined with small picturesque houses, that look rather like doll´s houses than people´s homes. They are coloured and the origin of some of them goes back to the 16 th century. The renowned writer Franz Kafka lived in the Golden Lane for some time during the World War I.
History and legends of the Golden Lane
Originally, there was just a wall behind the Prague Castle. As time went by in the 15 th century, first modest houses were built along it. The original name of the street was Goldmakers Lane, so most of the first inhabitants were probably Prague goldsmiths. These houses were demolished in 1591. Six years later, Emperor Rudolph II. let the 24 Prague Castle´s fusiliers build their houses there.
Also craftsmen and servants lived in the Golden Lane later. According to legends, Emperor Rudolph II. had some of his court alchemists accomodated in the Golden Lane, where they tried to turn metal into gold. That could also be the origin of the name “Golden Lane”.
Franz Kafka and other famous people in the Golden Lane
Since the 19 th century, the houses were mostly rented. There were some important Prague writers among the renters, including Franz Kafka. He lived in the house no. 22 with his sister Ottla in 1916-17. He wrote some short stories for the book A Country Doctor there. Apparently, the Golden Lane by the Prague Castle is where he found inspiration for his book The Castle.
Another writer, the Nobel prize winner Jaroslav Seifert lived in a now demolished building between the Golden Lane and the Dalibor Tower (Daliborka) in 1930s.
The house no. 14 was a home of the fortune-teller Madame de Thebes since 1918. She used to crystal gaze and tell fortunes from cards. She was killed by Gestapo at the end of the World War II., reportedly because she foretold that Adolf Hitler will die soon.
Golden Lane at the present time
The houses in the Golden Lane were nationalized after the war and later restored and painted, between 1952 and 1955. Nowadays, there are mostly souvenir and book shops there.
Probably the oldest house in the street is the one with number 20. It looks almost the same as it did in the 16 th century.
The original regulation to build the houses only in an arch of the wall is demonstrated by the house no.13, the only one that does not protrude into the Golden Lane.