After we’d had fun rambling around Golden Lane we headed for the east exit of the Castle (you walk down the hill, past the vineyards). On the way, we passed a round tower and had a look inside, as it’s partly open and we could get in on our tickets. Turns out that this round gun tower, called Daliborka, is shrouded in legend and stories.
At the other (west) end of Golden Land is the White Tower, which is not open to the public. It too was used as a prison for noblemen from 1584, the last prisoner left in 1743. Many famous (and infamous) people were locked up here as well.
We realized it’s possible to learn a lot about Czech history, just from learning about these towers. This is one of the amazing things about the old cities in Eastern Europe (and Europe generally)—that virtually every building, street, and structure is steeped in history.
These towers are not the main part of Prague Castle, but they also tell a story about its past.
The Doliborka Tower was part of Prague Castle Jagiello fortifications and its bottom floor was used as a prison.The first and also the best-known prisoner was the knight Dalibor of Kozojedy, who was imprisoned here in 1498. Hence its name, Daliborka. Legend says he learned to play violin to earn his living in the tower. Count František Antonín Sporck, popular arts patron, was another famous prisoner. The tower was built
into the slope above the Deer Moat (Jelení příkop) by Benedikt Ried in 1496. Originally, the tower was higher, but much was destroyed by a fire in 1871, after which it was no longer used as a prison. The top floor has no roof now. There are four cells in the large vaulted basement, and a round opening in the floor leading to a dungeon, where the prisoners were sunk via a pulley.
The walls of the dungeon are 2.6 m wide, and there is one more floor below the dungeon, which was used as another prison.
It’s very open today, but the thick walls and the stairway down give a good idea of what it must have been like.
We also found it interesting that there are a number of stone statues along the walls. There were no plaques that we could see that describe who or what they are/were, so we can only guess. Some seem fitting for the prison theme, but a couple don’t. Also a mystery—that we could maybe solve with more time here.