Have a walk in the cobbled Golden Lane, the last example of the historic Prague Castle. Feast your eyes on the tiny asymmetrical houses of various colours. The place is magical especially after dusk, when the crowds of tourists get thinner and the lane is lit up by dim lights of oil lamps.
The address of the poor close to Prague Castle
When you walk through the Prague Castle yards, past the Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert, towards the Old Castle Stairs, have a pause. A picturesque recess with the fairy-tale name of Golden Lane will entice you approximately in the middle of Jiřská Street. Perhaps it got its name after its first inhabitants, goldsmiths (it even used to be called Goldsmith Street) but who knows…
Pessimists point out that the name is related to the then repulsive appearance and smell of urine in the lane where the population density was substantially higher than the number of toilets. Later, grooms, artists or the castle guards used to live in the small houses.
Houses squeezed in the walls
Golden Lane was built in the fortifications of the northern part of the Prague Castle in about 1500. The castle walls served as the foundations of the modest houses in the end of the 16th century. The lane used to be very busy from the reign of Rudolf II to World War II.
Franz Kafka lived in the house No. 22 between 1916 and 1917, and the poets František Halas, Jaroslav Seifert and Vítězslav Nezval used to meet in the house No. 12, at Jiří Mařánek’s place. Since 1953 the grey houses have remained empty. They got their colourful facades designed by the artist Jiří Trnka in the 1950s, and today, they serve mostly to tourism.
The exposition in Golden Lane – the life of its inhabitants
Do you wonder how people could live in such small dwellings? Discover their interiors mapping the stylish furnishings of the last five centuries. You can visit the permanent exhibitions in 9 of the 16 houses.
Start at the Daliborka Tower, in the house No. 12, where the amateur film historian Josef Kazda lived. The neighbouring yellow house No. 13 presents a Renaissance dwelling of a castle gunman from the 16th century (it is probably the smallest house in Prague, built by walling up a castle wall niche). The next-door blue house no. 14 used to be owned by the popular cartomancer Matylda Průšová, tortured to death by the Nazis for predicting the fall of the Third Reich. In the house No. 15, you can see a workroom of the original inhabitants – the goldsmiths.
Admission and opening hours
You can get inside the houses in Golden Lane only within the Prague Castle trails (A and B), daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (from 1 November to 31 March only to 4 p.m.). Full admission to the Prague Castle A trail is CZK 350, the B trails costs CZK 250. Youth to 15 years of age, students, seniors and families have a discount.
You can also visit Golden Lane outside the opening hours, without entering the interiors (the Prague Castle compound is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.).