Prague is known as the city for the mystic and bizarre, the strange and the inexplicable. Dubbed one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, its facades nevertheless hold a dark legacy. The city’s history is rich with changing reigns, floods and fires, invasion and war – and underneath that wait the numerous stories of ghosts, water sprites and mysterious scientists who could turn metal into gold. It’s no wonder that this complex city is home to so many strange attractions. I visited a few of Prague’s most bizarre museums, and can recommend the same to anyone who wants to get to know the city’s unique past better.
Museum of Alchemists and Magicians of Old Prague
The Philospher’s Stone is more than just the name of a Harry Potter book. Although the trade is as old as time (just as most scams tend to be), it was particularly in fashion in Renaissance Europe. The Alchemist’s museum shows a glimpse of Edward Kelley’s life in Prague, an English alchemist brought in by the king Rudolph II in hopes of finding the secret to infinite gold but who, failing that, got thrown into prison and died there. While the decorations are fascinating, the exhibition is not very interactive, so come in only if you’re ready to read a lot. (Texts are available in English and Czech.) Or, if reading’s not your jam, you can just hang out at the alchemist’s bar next door.
Entrance fee is 190 CZK or 250 CZK for a combo ticket for Ghosts + Alchemists.
Prague Ghost Stories and Legends museum
The ghost stories and legends museum works in conjunction with the alchemists’ museum, and you can get a combo ticket for the two for cheaper. This museum is for you if you – like me – enjoy local legends and ghost stories. (Prague has its own headless horseman, but opposite to the Sleepy Hollow one, he is less into scaring people and more into drinking beer at the local pubs.) You can first get to know the sprites and spirits upstairs, and then wander through a miniature hallway of horrors downstairs. Again, to get the most out of this museum you should be in a mood for some reading since the museum isn’t very interactive.
Entrance fee is 140 CZK or 250 CZK for a combo ticket for Ghosts + Alchemists.
Sex Machines museum
If you’ve ever been to Amsterdam, you’re probably no stranger to sex museums. The one in Prague is still worth visiting, though. Two floors full of devices used at or related to sex from the beginning of time to now make you go, ‘wait, what goes where???’. (My favourite artefact must’ve been a, eh, toy, from the B.C.’s that had been carefully constructed back to its original form. Imagine being the archaelogist who found that.) There is also a tiny theatre that plays two erotic films from the 1920’s – one of which includes one of the first threesomes on film. Because nothing is more fun that watching mute adult films with a bunch of strangers.
Entrance fee is 250 CZK, 150 CZK for students.
Magical Cavern Museum
Not as much a museum as an art gallery, but one of the more bizarre ones you will ever encounter. Reon Argondion is the eccentric artist that transformed an old mill into a world of fantasy and fairies. His paintings depict otherworldy landscapes and mythical creatures, and they are set in the middle of statues of stony faces and dragons. The entry fee includes as much hot wine or juice as you can drink – although the guys from the restaurant next door did warn me against drinking any with a wink. Just like fairytales; if you eat or drink anything in the land of the fairies, you can never leave.
(Actually, even without drinking I still almost got stuck there – as I was leaving, I had to move a giant painting that was blocking the door.)
Entrance fee: 70 CZK or 3 euros (contrary to what it says online).
The Golden Alley
Part of the Prague Castle complex, the Golden Alley houses workshops and residences of the regular folk that lived, worked and made merry within the castle walls throughout centuries. The name stems from the 16th century when it was occupied by goldsmiths.
Nowadays the quaint, colourful houses have been turned into a row of crafts shops and mini museums. A vast arrangement of curiosities await: From torture machines to pharmacist’s shops and the residence of Madame de Thebes, a psychic and a fortune-teller, whose office is filled with bizarre knick-knacks such as a human skull and a picture of the yeti. Even Franz Kafka used to live here – the baby blue house #22 is now a souvenir shop.
Entrance is with a valid Prague Castle ticket, either circuit A (350 CZK) or circuit B (250 CZK).
Prague is an ancient city full of history and mystery, both real and imagined, and these are just a few of the bizarre sights you can find in the city. How about meeting Kafka – either at a museum dedicated to him or at a freaking 11-foot-statue hanging above the Old Town Streets? Or dive into one of the numerous antique shops to browse through black-and-white photos, used books and old postcards. Or, if you’re still not sick of museums, might as well visit the museum of historical toilets and chamberpots – because yeah, that’s a thing.
Have you ever been to Prague? What are your favourite strange attractions there?