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It might be difficult for the Elephant to wander along the Golden Lane.

Well . . . almost. He did not really live in this tiny house on this narrow lane - his sister did. And she did not really live in this tiny house on this narrow lane - she rented it so she could have a place to meet her lover in secret. The secret necessitated because her lover was a Christian. So the house was vacant most of the time. Franz started to go there (at the suggestion of his sister). He never stayed the night, but was there most evenings for months. He wrote a whole book of short stories while there. I set a third of my novel about Kafka in this tiny house. I've visited it. Peered from the windows. Looked up the stairs. Ducked in the doorway. When I was there while the country was still under Communist control, it was a book store. But - Kafka being Kafkaesque long after death - none of his books were displayed.



Prague Castle’s Golden Lane to close for renovation

02-02-2010 14:19 | Jan Richter

One of the Czech capital’s most famous attractions, the picturesque Golden Lane up at Prague Castle, is set to be closed to the public for at least a year. Castle officials say the landmark has to undergo thorough renovation, as the little street is under threat from an antiquated drainage system.

Visitors to Prague Castle will only have the chance to walk the famous Golden Lane at the end of April. The authorities have announced that after that, the narrow street will be closed for at least 12 months to undergo renovation. František Kadlec is the head of the castle’s tourism department.

“On May 1 of this year, we will close the gate leading to Golden Lane at Prague Castle. The reason is that it will undergo a total reconstruction, not just of the lane itself but also of the houses. We supposes that next summer, all work will have finished and Golden Lane will open to visitors once again.”

The main problem is apparently the malfunctioning 19th century rainwater drainage system. It floods the earth beneath the alley, and could even make the whole area slip downhill to the Stag Moat far below. The first phase of the project will involve a probe of the various levels of earth Golden Lane was built on.

“As you can see, Golden Lane is in fact positioned between two castle walls. In the course of centuries, this space was filled with several layers of earth. So we expect to find interesting objects in it. The next phase will then involve replacing the buried service networks and reconstructing the houses, including roofs, facades and so on.”

Golden Lane only became a major tourist attraction after the war, when it was acquired by the Prague Castle administration. Today, most of the houses in the street have shops with souvenirs and other tourist bric-a-brac. František Kadlec says that after the street reopens for visitors in 2011, some of them will be replaced with museum exhibitions.

“In some houses we’ll put exhibitions evoking the life style in Golden Lane across centuries. We know that its first inhabitants were humble gold beaters, and so in one house, visitors will see the workshop of such medieval gold beater, another will be turned into a pub because there were also pubs in this street.”

More information about the renovation of Golden Lane can be found at www.hrad.cz.

Photo: Štěpánka Budková

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What's with the folks in Prague anyway?

They make a bookstore out of a house Kafka lived in, and then don't sell any of his books. Even under the communists, they could out-irony us with one feeler tied behind their backs.