In the shadow of Prague Castle lies the ‘Zlatá ulicka’, the Golden Lane. The lane is named after the goldsmiths who were housed here by Emperor Rudolf II. Legend has it he commissioned them to find a substance that could turn metal into gold. In reality, the story is much less eccentric: back in the 16th century, these 11 tiny houses were built in this lane to accommodate the castle guards and their families.
The multi-coloured 16th-century homes in the Golden Lane are among the most photographed places in the city. In the 18th and 19th century the houses were occupied by squatters and later by artists, including the famous Czech poet and writer Franz Kafka (1883-1924). He lived for 2 years in the blue house at number 22, his sister’s home.
The story goes that Kafka wrote his best works here, including the novel 'The Castle'. His former home now houses the Kafka bookstore and a small museum. The other houses accommodate souvenir shops that sell a variety of crafts. It would be hard to actually live in these houses; the ceilings are so low that an adult can barely stand upright. Another famous writer also resided at the Golden Lane: Nobel Laureate Jaroslav Seifert. And number 14 was once the home of fortune teller Madame de Thebes. She used her cards to forecast the future and was arrested at the end of the Second World War by the Gestapo after she predicted that Hitler would soon die.
At night or around dusk the Golden Lane is even prettier than in the daytime. The evening light casts a magical golden glow on the small picturesque houses. Would you like to see the lane from a completely different perspective? Then climb the stairs at number 24 to visit the defensive wall. Here you will find a display of suits of armour, wooden shields and spears. There is also a torture room with old torture instruments.