The Lion Courtyard by the Prague Castle used to be a place, where rulers kept their wild animals, usually gained as presents from foreign rulers. People could see there lions, leopards or tigers, especially in the 16 th century. Nowadays, there is a café and a pleasant restaurant, where you can taste some gourmet specialities from the era of Emperor Rudolph II.
The Lion Courtyard, also rarely called the Bear Courtyard, is situated in the northern part of the Prague Castle area, near the Powder Bridge. There used to be a wooden pavilion for wild animals probably already in the first half of the 16 th century. It was replaced by Renaissance buildings surrounding the court, built by architect Ulrico Aostallis between 1581 and 1583. There was a gallery for the audience around the court.
Emperor Rudolph II. and Lion Courtyard
Emperor Rudolph II. kept there for example leopards from Russian tsar Fjodor I. or a tiger from the Duke of Florence Ferdinand Medici. Also lions, orangutans, and other animals could be seen here in the second half of the 16 th century. Behind the Lion Courtyard there was a fruit trees grove with parrots tied to branches by little golden chains.
The emperor´s favourite animal was lion Mohamed, a gift from Turkish sultan. The astronomer Tycho de Brahe foretold, that the lion will have the same destiny as the emperor himself, because there was the same stars constellation when they were born. Rudolph II. really died only several days after the lion´s death.
Restaurant Lion Courtyard
There were less and less animals since the end of the 17 th century, and the last bear was took away in 1740. The building became an alehouse in the 18 th century and since 1970s there is a nice restaurant with a garden built at the place of the former animals yard. The Lion Courtyard was restored in 1990s.
Ghost story of the Lion Courtyard
There is a ghost story connected to the Lion Courtyard. It is said, that a pilgrim once died in the Deer Moat around the Prague Castle. The person who used to feed the lions threw his corpse to the animals, instead of burying him. The pilgrim´s restless ghost reportedly walks around the Lion Court even nowadays. The mutilated ghost has never hurt anybody, but his searching look in the passing people´s faces is said to be dreadful.