Golden Lane, often referred to as the Street of the Alchemists or Alchemist’s Alley, is a little alley situated at Prague Castle and one of the most famous and picturesque streets in the city. Golden Lane and its tiny colored houses were constructed in the 15th century as an alley between the Roman and Late Gothic walls in the northern part of the castle. At first, it housed the castle guards who patrolled the fortification, but since there were more guards than space, the resulting buildings seem to be more fitting for dwarves than for humans. A century later, the tiny alley with the cozy houses apparently became popular with artists and among them, a number of goldsmiths. According to legend, some of these goldsmiths were in fact alchemists, tasked by Emperor Rudolf II to find a way to turn common metals into gold and find the philosopher’s stone. Even though this is historically inaccurate, the legend has only increased the street’s popularity.
In later centuries, Golden Lane with its magical atmosphere kept attracting artists and bohemians as residents. Among them is the Czech-Jewish writer Franz Kafka, who rented house number 22 for two years to be able to write in peace. Today, one can find souvenir shops and galleries in the miniature houses and visitors can visit a real 16th century setup in house number 20.