Prague: The House Signs of Nerudova Street

There were no house/building numbers in Prague until 1770. Before that buildings were identified by signs. These signs give house fantastic names like House of The Two Suns, House of the Three Ostriches, At the Red Chair, and House at the Golden Arrow (which I'm actually staying in). You can see evidence of these original signs all over the old parts of the city but Nerudova Street in Mala Strana gives you the largest concentration of them in one place. The signs sometimes identified the profession of the family living there but for many the original meaning has been lost. Many have alchemical significance.

Above: The House of the White Swan may actually be a reference to the Golden Goose and gold is, of course, very important in alchemy. The House of the Two Suns is the birthplace of poet Jan Neruda for whom the street is named. The Green Lobster has everyone still wondering to what that referred to. The house with the sign with St. Wenceslas's Horse (The Storch House) was owned by blacksmiths who shod horses bound for the castle. In addition, St. Wenceslas is the patron saint of Bohemia and blacksmiths. The House of the Red Lamb's meaning is alchemical though the complete meaning isn't now known. Red is a very important color in alchemy and also could refer to the Philosopher's Stone. The House of the Three Fiddles was home to a family of violin makers in the 1700s. The sign advertised their trade, though legend has it that a demonic trio of fiddlers plays here on moonlit nights. The Golden Wheel is an alchemical symbol representing the magnum opus stage which leads to the formation of gold. The Golden Key had castle goldsmiths working in the house in the 1600s.

There are also some interesting statues along the way as well. Here are Day and Night. But also the sun and the moon are important alchemical symbols. The sun is gold and the moon is silver.

You will encounter Luna on the western end of Nerudova Street. I couldn't find the corresponding Sol to go with her but I'm sure he's around somewhere.

Walking down Nerudova Street.