Turning base metals into gold is something that has occupied the minds and wallets of the rich and powerful for centuries, and it appears as though not everyone has given up on this pursuit entirely.
The Alchemy Museum, perched above the tourist information office in Kutná Hora, Czech Republic is quite clearly run by one of them. Dressed in garments more suited to a raving hippy than a serious scientist, he has put together a little darkened dungeon that explores the history and aims of alchemy. And it all looks a little bit like a mad scientist's laboratory.
We may mock now, but in times past it was held in as high regard as physics or chemistry. Visitors can learn about kings, dukes and princes that were obsessed with discovering the Elixir of Youth, as well as the meanings of Da Vinci Code-esque mumbo-jumbo like the Philosopher's Stone and Emerald Tablet.
Most of it is predictably unfathomable. After all, if richly-funded alchemists don't know what they're looking for, how are we supposed to know? However, it's a strangely fascinating jaunt through something most people thought died out a long time ago.
Better still, if visitors turn up when it's quiet (which is probably most days - the joint is hardly a major tourist draw), the curator will wander round the museum with them and spin all manner of unlikely stories.
Getting to Kutna Hora
Nearest international airport: Prague, Czech Republic.
Using public transport: It's around an hour on the bus from Prague. The Kutná Hora bus station is just to the north-east of the town's main square. That square is where visitors can find the Tourist Information Centre and Alchemy Museum.
More details: Kutna Horá Alchemy Museum Official Website
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