Thursday, March 24, 2011
Rome's Magic Door
The Porta Alchemica can be found in the garden of a ruined villa on Rome's Esquilino hill. It was once one of five mysterious gates that were built around 1680 by a wealthy marquis who was friends with some of the biggest names in alchemy.
According to legend, the marquis once dined with an alchemist who claimed he had discovered an herb that would turn ordinary metals into gold. By the next morning, the man had disappeared. But he left behind a few gold flakes--and the recipe he had used to create them. Unfortunately, the marquis couldn't understand the strange document, so he had its contents inscribed on five doors around his villa in the hope that some passerby might be able to interpet the symbols.
Today, only one of the doors is still standing.