The colourful, little houses in Golden Lane were built, in 1597, by order of Emperor Rudolph II, in order to house his top marksmen and their families, as these were the men who would protect him from his enemies, and he had a lot!
So, it might have been called Sniper Alley, but later it housed alchemists and goldsmiths. Hence the name, Golden Lane.
The most interesting twentieth century resident was Franz Kafka's sister, Otla, who lived at No. 22. It was while Kafka was staying there, in 1917, that he got the inspiration to write, "The Castle". As you try to find your way out through the narrow streets and dead-ends, you can see why.
Today, the tiny houses are used as gift shops and Golden Lane is possibly the most crowded street in Prague. As I was taking this picture, I could hear Italian, French, German, Japanese, Cantonese and even English being spoken by the jostling crowd of tourists all around me.
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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.
This is a short street with several colourful small houses. They were originally built in the 16th century for the castle guards.This street was named after the goldsmiths who went to live there in the 17th century.
Most of these houses are nicely furnished as they could have been long ago. Some other are used as souvenir shops.
It is said that Franz Kafka lived at n. 22 for some time.
Inside the Castle grounds is the lovely Golden Lane. It has beautifully restored houses that were lived in by wealthy Czech people including Franz Kafka. (he lived in the blue house - No 22)
Now they house tourist shops selling paintings and other arts and crafts. It is a busy little lane and was not easy to take a photo without all the sightseers getting in the photo.
The Golden Lane is narrow street located within the castle complex. Here you will see some small, colourful, crooked cottages that were built into the castle wall in the 16th century.
They were home to goldsmiths, hence the name of the street. Having their business located at the castle helped them to avoid paying 'guild dues' in town.
Today the cottages are filled with shops to tempt us tourists.
Named after the goldsmids working here in the 17th century, Golden Lane also housed the king Rudolf II's crossbow archers (hence the attraction in Kafka's house). However in the 19th century this lovely street was inhabited by criminals and the poor and it had to wait for the past century for a thorough clean up to its present state.
Even in mid November and with an entrance the Golden Lane is overcrowded.
Yet still worth a visit.
In the beginning of the street you'll find the house of Kafka, well actually he just stayed a few months here with his sister, but it sells
The Golden Lane, part of Prague castle, consists of a row of tiny colourful houses that were once inhabited by the castle servants and marksmen. Later on gold merchants moved in, giving the street it's name. Now many of the houses are gift shops. At the end of the lane there are magnificent views across Prague.
The small coloured cottages of Golden Lane, which cling to the castle walls, are a must for visitors to the castle. The houses have now been made into a variety of shops to tempt you and although they look individual a single corridor runs through the attics
This picturesque street is part of the castle area. In the past these tiny houses were inhabited by the castle servants. Nowadays the dwellings house tourist shops and cafes. The house No. 22 was inhabited by the sister of writer Franz Kafka.
The famous Golden Lane. On this little street in house nr 22 lived 1916-1917 Franz Kafka. There resided too a some time Jaroslav Seifert - Chech poet, the Nobel-Prize winner in 1984.
Now there are shops with souvenirs. The entrance on this lane cost 50 koronas (about 1$).
This small picturesque street is located in Prague Castle and is probably the tourist atrraction No. 1 in Prague. Frank Kafka used to live in No. 22.
Nowadays you can find Souvenir-Shops and all kind of other Tourist-Shops in the beautifull and colorfull Houses.
Just try to be there early morning as it is going to be packed with tourists later on.
Golden Lane is known from 15th century, when goldsmiths, servants and craftsmen had opportunity to live here. Later, in 20th century, Franc Kafka lived at one of houses and wrote his work “Castle”. As legend tells, Emperor Rudolph II allowed alchemists to live here as well, so name “Golden Lane” probably appeared due to goldsmiths or gold-seeking alchemists.
The oldest house on Golden Lane now is from 16th century. Lane is full of book, souvenir shops. It is really a unique place.
The question is: why these houses are so small? Were people so small before? Maybe it is because of servants (lower class) was living here (lower class – lower life conditions)? And…maybe houses are small to create an inspiring feeling for artistic people (eg. for Kafka)?
In the Golden Lane some famous writers have also lived, among which Jaroslav Seifert and Franz Kafka. Kafka lived for some months with his sister to the number 22 in 1916-17.
According to the legend the alchemists and the adventurers worked in the alley and they tried to produce gold for Rudolph II. In reality such laboratories were found in Vikarka, the little street between the Cathedral of St. Vitus and the Tower of the Dusts.
The Golden Lane is really cute. It's named after the goldsmiths who lived here in the 17th century, and is popular with its tiny colourful houses built right into the arches of the Castle walls. In the 18th and 19th centuries they were occupied by squatters, later it was the home of the writer Franz Kafka (house 22) and the Nobel-laureate poet Jaroslaf Seifert. Most of them are souvenir shops today. It's a shame that you have to pay to go onto the street, but it's usually included in the packages that you can buy.
This is a little street in the Castle area with many shops where people can buy souvenirs. The idea of this lane is to show different handicrafts of the previous time. I was there a week before Easter so everything was covered with flowers and colored eggs.