The Golden Lane
Do you want to see a street where houses are so small that they fit more to dwarfs than to people? Do you want know what the smallest street in Prague look like? Then you shouldn’t miss the Golden Lane (Zlata Ulicka) in the complex of Prague Castle. The street full of small houses built in Mannerism style at the end of the 16th century.
The street was created during the construction of northern fortification at the end of the 15th century. In 1597 the emperor Rudolf II decided to give the space there to the castle marksmen who guarded the fortification. But there were 24 marksmen and a lack of space. Therefore, the marksmen had to build very small houses for them and their families. The material they used was stone, mud, and wood. The emperor prohibited to build windows in the direction to the Deer Moat or to sell or rent the house to somebody else.
During the decades several houses were destroyed, after 1657 there were only 14 houses left. Castle marksmen were not needed so much any more, that’s why more and more people of other occupations came to live there. The Golden Gate hosted both rich and poor people, artists, clerks, footmen, etc. One of the famous inhabitants of this street was famous writer Franz Kafka in house no. 22 or Prague prophetess Madame de Thebes, who was killed by the Gestapo in the war because she foretold the end of Nazism.
Golden Lane got its name from the story of alchymists living in the street during the reign of Rudolf II who tried to make not only the philosopher stone or the elixir of youth, but also to transform metals into gold. Even though these stories are not based on the truth, there is a real story dating to the beginning of the 20th century. One of the local house was inhabited by an old man, doctor of philosofy Uhle, who spent all his money on old books about magic. He made secret experiments in his lab inside the house. In 1831 people in the Golden Lane heard a big detonation from his house. When fire fighters entered the house and distinguished fire, they found Uhle dead with a yellow stone in his hand. Later on the stone was proved to be gold. How the gold got into the house is still not known. Maybe he really made his and many other alchymists’ longtime dream come true.
How to get there:
The Golden Lane is situated in the north-east corner of Prague Castle complex. You can get there by trams no. 22 and 23 from metro station Malostranska (stop Prazsky hrad) or from metro station Malostranska by Old Royal Steps. Other possibilities is to walk from Charles Bridge via Nerudova street and Hradcanske namesti.
Opening hours (paid entrance):
April – Octoberdaily9:00 – 17:00
November – Marchdaily9:00 – 16:00
Opening hours (free entrance):
April – Octoberdaily5:00 – 24:00
November – Marchdaily6:00 – 23:00
The Golden Lane is a part of Prague Castle long and short tour.
For more pictures see Golden Lane photo gallery