The Alchemy Museum in Prague is super cute! It wasn’t much of a museum in the sense that there were a lot of things to look at — it was more of a story telling situation with our excellent guide giving us all the info.
There was a flood (I forget when exactly, but in modern times) in the main square and in the process of remediating it, they noticed a tunnel. They followed the tunnel and discovered these alchemy labs underneath the building that now houses the museum. The entrance to the labs had been sealed off by the alchemists and nobody had any idea they were down there!! At the time of discovery, the building was a glass shop. Can you imagine going to work one day and they’re like “by the way there are centuries-old alchemy labs down there”?
Apparently King Rudolf II in the 16th century was not particularly interested in politics and would rather play around with alchemy and occult sciences than be king. On the plus side, this did lead to a flourishing of science and arts in Prague. On the minus side, political disasters? But also elixirs!!
In the labs they found some original items including glass jars, an elixir of life/youth AND the recipes for the elixirs! The recipes were in Latin so they gave them to the monks at the Strahov Monastery who now produce the elixirs (with some changes – the original elixir of life contained opium) for purchase at the gift shop. We got ourselves an elixir of prosperity which contains gold flakes and is apparently so potent just having it around is enough – no need to even drink it.
We got our friend an elixir of love which is mostly port wine with some herbs in it, but supposedly if you drink it with somebody your love will be eternal. Rudolf II drank it with his mistress and they had like 35 kids (none of them heirs, alas).
I imagine an alchemy lab is basically like a meth lab in terms of danger and indeed there were explosions down there. The alchemists made up some story about how a fiery chariot pulled by goats (the most demonic of animals) sometimes traveled under the house, so that’s what all that noise is about. Nothing to see here!