Golden Lane and Kafka
Golden Lane, Kafka and alchemists, all three claim fame to this small alley within the castle complex. Franz Kafka was a German-speaking novelist who lived for some time in Golden Lane. Alchemists were believed to have lived in Golden Lane during the reign of Rudolf II. They tried to change base metals into noble metals. Although Golden Lane was known as Alchemist Lane, alchemists never lived there. The name ‘Golden Lane’ was derived from the goldsmiths that resided in the alley in the seventeenth century for some time.
Golden Lane and Tourists
Golden Lane and Kafka: a recipe for (commercial) success. Golden Lane sounds promising but in reality it is a small alley brimming with tourists and tourist shops. You cannot just visit Golden Lane because it is part of the Prague Castle Tour. However, tourists brave enough to face a crowd and wait in line at the entrance will be rewarded with a pleasant stroll through Golden Lane and a visit of some of the tiny houses that are now miniature museums.
From 1916 to 1917, Franz Kafka stayed at his sister’s house at number 22 Golden lane where he allegedly wrote his novel: Das Schloss, translated into English as ‘The Castle’. The cottage is now occupied by a souvenir shop.
Tip: Prague Castle is very popular. Buy your ticket online to avoid the long lines at the ticket office. Note: you still will still need to queue for security.
Tiny Houses for Marksmen of the Castle
The alley was built in the sixteenth century by the order of Emperor Rudolf II to house the castle marksmen who guarded the castle. As there were twenty-four of them and lack of space, the houses were built small as to accommodate their large number. Constructed of stone, mud and wood, they have windows only at the front. The Emperor forbade windows at the back overlooking the Deer Moat which he used for hunting his large deer herd.
Golden Lane: Museum Lane
When the castle marksmen were no longer needed, a mixture of people with other occupations came to live here: rich and poor, artists, clerks, footmen and more. In the 19th century, Golden Lane fell into disrepair and artists and artisans moved in. In the 1950s, the Communists evicted them from their derelict homes. Between 1952 and 1955, the houses were restored, and at this time the facades got their present-day pastel-colour appearance. Seven of the houses are souvenir, toy and book shops. The other nine are home to exhibitions documenting everyday life in this alley.
Residents of Golden Lane
Golden Lane 14: Matylda Prusovo set the table every day and waited for the return of her son who fought in the First World War. He never came back. As a psychic she received guests and predicted their future through tarot cards. The Gestapo arrested and executed her after her regularly predicting the end of Nazism and the fall of the Third Reich. (photo shows an interior from the first half of the twentieth century).
Golden Lane 16: tavern and gathering place for itinerant jugglers, musicians, peddlers, hawkers and crooks who cheated people with dice or cards. (photo shows an interior from the fifteenth and sixth centuries)
Golden Lane 26: a seamstress’s room. There was always needle and repair work to be done. (photo shows the interior as at the time of the First Republic 1918-1938)
Golden Lane 27: a herbalist workshop, a kind of pharmacist who knew everything about herbs and their beneficial effects. When a herbalist had successfully treated enough people, he was given a certificate of competence. On the shelves are bottles and jars with snail shells, pig teeth, dried frogs and boxes with powders for toothache and sore throat. (photo shows the interior in the eighteenth century)
How to Get There
Golden Lane is part of Prague Castle. To enter the castle complex, first pass through security before buying tickets for Prague Castle, Golden Lane is included in this ticket.
* Tram 22 to Prague Castle (Prazsky hrad) stop. Cross the tram tracks and walk straight ahead, following the other tourists. It is a five-minute walk to Prague Castle.
*Metro line A to Malostranska station. The walk uphill and the route is longer than by tram. Take the Stare zamecke schody (old castle stairs), which will take you to the entrance of the castle.
Alchemists, Rudolf II and Prague
Visit Prague Castle and Beat the Queue
Alchemy Museum: Speculum Alchemiae
Tour of in Prague Castle
Photos Marianne Crone