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Golden Lane, Prague, Czech Republic

At about the middle of the Jirská Street, there is a turning to the picturesque Golden Lane. In the past, it used to be called the Goldsmiths Lane, perhaps it served as dwelling for the goldsmiths. It was founded between the Romanic and the late Gothic fortifications at the Castle’s Northern side. Little houses were built in the fortification arches of the defence walls built by Benedikt Ried around 1500, and behind them, there are the peaks of the fortifications. Underroof is formed by a defence corridor connecting the White Tower and Daliborka. In the 16th century, there were distress houses here; in the era of Rudolf II it was a dwelling for the members of the castle guard. Later on, poor people lived here. Franz Kafka had his office in house No. 22 in 1917, and writers and poets (Frantisek Halas, Jaroslav Seifert, Vítezslav Nezval) used to meet in house No. 12, the home of Jirí Maránek. From here, there is an entrance to a terrace of the late-Gothic fortifications between Daliborka and the Black Tower. After World War II, the houses were not inhabited any more.

In the years 2010 – 2011, the Golden Lane went through a complex reconstruction. Today there is a permanent exposition in nine out of the 16 houses, documenting the life in the lane over the past five centuries. All the rooms depict real persons (except for the alchemists, who are fictitious) who lived there from the 16th century all the way to the 1950s; for example the household of the lane’s oldest citizens – the so called red shooters who would guard the castle gates, a goldsmith’s workshop, a pub, a herbalist’s house, the household of renowned Prague clairvoyant and fortune-teller Matylda Prusová, or of an amateur film historian, Mr. Kazda, who would hide copies of the contemporary Czech films against the Nazis. In other houses, there are little stores with hand-made souvenirs, such as wooden toys, marionettes, ceramics, tin figures, jewelry or books relating to the most famous citizen of this lane – Franz Kafka. There is a cylindrical White Tower at the Western end of the lane, the lower part of which was used as a dungeon, torture chamber and prison. For example, alchemist Edward Kelly was imprisoned here. The prison remained here until the mid-18th century.

Information courtesy of praguewelcome.cz

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