Franz Kafka - Life and Philosophy

Franz Kafka was one of the most talented writers and notable literary figures born in Prague. Kafka's books, such as "Metamorphosis", "The Trial", "The Castle", are the most critically acclaimed works of 20th-century prose nowadays. Franz Kafka's philosophy also resonates with many people, who see themselves as heroes of his books. 

Life of Franz Kafka

Born in Prague Old Town, from his early childhood Franz was quite timid and introverted, especially in comparison to his father, a self-made entrepreneur. They never got along, which greatly influenced Fanz and his future literary works. Franz had 5 younger siblings, who all died in the Holocaust.

Franz worked for the insurance company Assicurazioni Generali located on Wenceslas Square. Although he was quite successful in his law career, Franz despised his job that was taking up all of his time he could have spent writing. Literature was his true vocation. Franz wrote in German, his first language, but also spoke Czech and French. Despite his Jewish heritage, it is unclear if Franz Kafka spoke Hebrew fluently, as the level of teaching this language in schools was low at that time. 

Working for a big corporation only amplified the feeling of loneliness and despair in the young writer. Franz Kafka extensively explores "the clog in the machine" topic in his works. His nightmarish book settings gave birth to the term Kafkaesque, which describes a bizarre and oppressive world of bureaucratic delays. 

In 1922, Franz left his work due to health problems and in 1924 died from tuberculosis. He is buried in the New Jewish Cemetery in  Žižkov, Prague, Czech Republic.

 

Where did Franz Kafka live in Prague?

Franz and his family moved at least 14 times but mainly stayed in the proximity of the old Town Square. Here is a list of the most famous houses linked to Franz Kafka's life!

  • House of the Golden Unicorn known as U Zlateho jednorozce on the Old Town Square 548/20, Prague. This is where Franz's parents lived before he was born.
  • Zum Turm House or U Veze, Franz Kafka's Square 24/3, Prague. This is where on July 3rd, 1883 Franz was born. There is a memorial plaque on the corner of the building dedicated to him. 
  • Dum U Minuty (House of the Minute), Old Town Square 3/2, Prague. It is the house where Franz spent most of his school years and one of the most famous locations connected to his family. 
  • U tri kralu (House of the Three Kings), Celetna 602/3. A key place for Franz's literature journey - this is where he wrote his first texts. It was also the house where he could have a separate room.
  • House #22 on Golden Lane, Prague Castle. This house was rented out for his sister Ottla, but Franz liked to come there for his writing sessions. 
  • Schönborn Palace in Lesser Town district Prague. Located on Trziste 365/15, it currently houses the American Embassy. This is where Franz Kafka experienced his first serious health problems. You can find a plaque with the US symbol dedicated to him there. 

 

Statues and Museums of Franz Kafka

  • The Statue of Franz Kafka is located next to the Spanish Synagogue by the artist Jaroslav Rona erected in 2003. 
  • Kafka's Head by David Cerny near Metro Station Narodni trida. This moving statue was made from 42 steel layers and weighs 39 tons! It was also, probably, one of the most expensive statues erected in Prague, and cost 30 million Czech crowns.
  • Museum of Franz Kafka in Lesser Town, Prague. 

 

What is Franz Kafka Best known for?

Franz Kafka is best known for his books Metamorphosis, The Trial, The Castle, and the term Kafkaesque.

Our Local Guide Tip

  • When you visit the statue of Franz Kafka next to the Spanish Synagogue, you will notice the shoes of Franz Kafka have a shiny golden color. You might even hear some guides to encourage confused travelers to touch them for good luck. The statue originally didn't have golden shoes, they became polished over the years because of how many tourists took a picture with the statue holding the shoes. Oh well... No luck rubbing dose.

See more of our Prague Travel Tips.


Author: Valeriia Zahradnikova and Vaclav Zahradnik, Prague guides certified by Prague City Tourism agency. Valeriia and Vaclav have worked in tourism for over 6 years and have guided thousands of Prague visitors.