Speculum Alchemiae – Prague, Czechia - Atlas Obscura

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Speculum Alchemiae

The hidden lair of an alchemist rediscovered in a 2002 flood.  


Hidden in the historical center of Prague you will find a ground floor studio sporting portraits, books, and assorted curiosities. The hide of the last black bear to be hunted in the outskirts of Prague lies on the floor. The real treasure is yet to come. 

Locate the small statue in the library and give it a twist. A secret door will open down onto a narrow set of stairs, which leads to an underground laboratory sprawling beneath.

This underground space, re-discovered after the massive flood of 2002, contains the equipment and the crucible used (supposedly) to turn lead into gold. A mummified crocodile hangs from the ceiling: the alchemists used to refer to it as a “dragon” to inspire awe in their visitors. 

While the museum is a re-creation, a bit gimmicky, and the trip through the secret door down into the basement is done with a tour guide it is nonetheless an unusual journey into Prague’s occult history. 

This was the place where experiments were conducted, hidden from the eyes of the inquisition: for good measure, a tunnel (the beginning of which is shown during the guided visit) led directly from the laboratory to a safe escape in the woods out of the city… alchemists can never be too careful. 


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March 29, 2016

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