When you are in Prague, you just cannot, and I insist – you cannot miss Golden Lane (Zlota Ulicka) located near Prague Castle. The street is packed with small, and they are small! houses and you can hardly imagine anyone living there. The rooms are tiny and the ceilings are so low that it is difficult for an adult to actually stand straight. But people did live here and even Franz Kafka was staying at number 22 as a guest of his sister Ottla in 1916. Apparently he used his stay to work on his famous novel – “The castle”.
The legend has that Emperor Rudolf II commissioned goldsmiths to find a substance that could turn metal into gold (very popular dream in Middle Ages) – and that is how the Golden Lane got its name. However the true is somehow less romantic – these tiny houses were build to serve the castle guards and their families.
At the end of XV century the Golden Lane was created. The materials used to build houses consisted of stone, mud and wood. Rudolf II forbade building windows in the direction of Deer Moat or rent the house to anybody else apart from castle marksmen. To be honest, there was not enough space provided for 24 marksmen, but they did their best.
At the beginning there was more houses than it is now, but few of them were destroyed and only 14 survived. When castle marksmen were not in demand, more and more people came here to live – poor and rich, artists, clerks and footmen. A famous Madame de Thebes, who was killed by the Gestapo in the war because she foretold the end of Nazism lived here as well .
Apparently in one of the houses lived doctor of philosophy Uhle. He bought a lot of old books about magic and alchemy and was preparing secret experiments in his lab in the house. In 1831 his house was blown into the air and when the fire brigade got to him, they found Dr Uhle death with a big yellow stone in his fist – it was later on proven that the stone was gold! How the gold got into the house was a mystery, but some believes he was the one who actually turned a metal into the gold.
Getting to Prague Castle is easy – just catch trams no. 22 and 23 from metro station Malostranska (stop Prazsky hrad) or from metro station Malostranska by Old Royal Steps. You can as well easily walk from Charles Bridge via Nerudova street and Hradcanske namesti. If you are staying in Prague longer and planning more visiting, buy a Prague card – more details available here.