The abandoned alchemical laboratory of Rudolf II. The old city is full of mysteries

It was built by Emperor Rudolph II. The house belonged to Rabbi Low, who created the legendary Kolam. The recipe for the elixir of eternal youth is said to have been discovered underground.

The laboratory is not a tourist attraction

This is not a ploy to lure tourists and extort money from them. Preserved documents, including drawings of the workshop at the Strahov and Broumov monasteries, speak clearly. Here they were researching, here the essences bubbled up in the arches, and from here, despite the complete sealing, an often unpleasant smell wafted into the street.

No wonder the rumor spread that a team of stinking goats would pass through the street with lightning and thunder. In what appeared to be a dilapidated house, strange, incomprehensible things were happening to the god-fearing townsman.

Photo: Vratislav Konečný

In the entrance hall, a selection of modern elixirs is displayed.

Prague of the Mad Emperor Rudolf II.

Prag rudolphinum. Two words describing the time Emperor Rudolph II stayed in Prague. During his reign, eccentric reserves from all over Europe flocked to the court and winding streets. The emperor fled Vienna to Prague, where he had to make ruling and political decisions, both of which he hated to death. He also ran away from many relatives, who asked the king to take care of their unnecessary.

Rudolf didn’t like it, and Bragg indulged him in his advanced madness, because according to historical sources he actually went mad. An interest in women and later art, including a keen interest in alchemy. It is also well depicted in Frick’s comedy Císařův pekař a Pekařův pekař a Pekařův César, albeit with a strong ideological charge.

Photo: Vratislav Konečný

This room concealed the underground passage.

After consulting with witches, he named his dog Matyáš, after his hated brother, and then tortured the animal. He wanted his brother’s brutal death, he even burned the sleeve of his clothes, such “voodoo in check”.

Philosopher’s stone, elixir of eternal youth and transmutation of metals into gold

Prague was alchemical at the time, but the alchemists were supported by prominent nobles. At that time Prague also included a mysterious and forbidden Jewish city whose inhabitants were incomprehensible to ordinary Christians. This included alchemy, which caused awe and fear to an unknown and superstitious people.

Photo: Vratislav Konečný

Renaissance in the Rudolphian Era

But these are not fairy tales, and the alchemists are not frauds, but primordial alchemists. Of course, some were fed to the eccentric emperor, who loved the philosopher’s stone, the elixir of life, the transmutation of base metals into gold.

Castle’s alchemy workshop isn’t a society of potheads and burrito warmers like it is in the movie. It was studied secretly and astrology also helped. As in the research workshops, it reminds me of an accidental discovery in an ancient house on Hastalska Street in the Old Town. Why the house escaped demolition during the liquidation of the Jewish ghetto remains a mystery.

The quarries near America, an incredibly romantic place near Prague, were also symbols of suffering


The mirror of alchemy

The entrance to the house is below the level of the surrounding landscape, the entrance hall with the cash register is a sales display for the various herbal extracts specially prepared at the Rajharat monastery in Moravia.

The guided tour lasts about half an hour, after a few minutes you will be transported back in time, the description is very interesting, the first room is a bit arranged, but still worth it.

Photo: Vratislav Konečný

Horned Moses

Horned Moses

The chandelier, which depicts the head of Moses, one of the most important figures of the Old Testament, the mediator between the Jewish people and God, is sure to attract attention. According to the Bible, God appeared to him at the burning bush and then at Mount Sinai. Moses received the foundation of the Law (the Ten Commandments) and God made a covenant with Israel.

This is common knowledge, but Moses is depicted here with horns on his head, making him look like a devil.

Michelangelo Buonarroti also carved with horns. According to a misinterpretation of the Bible, Moses was said to be “horned”, the Lord enlightened him and the growths on the head were supposed to be a kind of luster.

But the growths in the head in the alchemist’s workshop must capture the magical energy transferred to the alchemist’s furnace.

They will say everything beautifully here and then a magical moment will happen.

Photo: Vratislav Konečný

A secret door led down the stairs to the underground research.

Through the secret door to the underground

The cellar was original, ten years after the flood, work was carried out on its transformation, so that the place where the alchemists worked, hidden from prying eyes, could be seen as it really was.

The underground is extensive, with three underground tunnels. One should lead to the old town hall, where customers or other relevant people from the underground may go undetected. Another walkway under the Vltava should open at Prague Castle.

Did the emperor walk here? It must have some holes and after a few tens of meters the air becomes unbreathable. A third corridor led beyond the city gates.

Photo: Vratislav Konečný

Alchemical furnace

The restorers worked here for ten years

According to the documents, the alchemy workshop was used by both Rabbi Low and Edward Kelly, and you will see a number of melting furnaces and vessels. The ovens are partly original, rebuilt after the flood, and there is also a herb drying room.

Attached to the wall near the lab was the original stone slab, cracked at the bottom, behind which sealed vials were found. One may contain the elixir of youth.

What happened underground will forever remain a mystery, but take a look and let your imagination run wild.

On a business trip through Europe

The house stood on a strategic trade route via the Grande. Trade caravans traveled along it from the 9th century, the Prague station was at Ankelt, where merchants stored and delivered their goods.

In the 15th century many stopped at this house, which already had a herbal pharmacy. The sale and purchase of rare raw materials took place here, and the laboratory was set up by Emperor Rudolph II. In the 16th century. Back then, Prague was the most important mecca of alchemists, but also a center of charlatans and swindlers. The King did not forgive failures, even Master Kelly saw this for himself.

Gold at Zillow attracted the magician Edward Kelly, but also the painter Peter Brandl.


The golden youth of the mighty Pernštejn brought the much richer Bardubice to its knees and almost into oblivion.


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