Prague has a horror story for virtually every stone in the old city. Prague is always included in lists of the world’s most haunted places. Here are 8 things you need to do to feel the mysticism of Prague.
Read Gustav Meyrink. Today there is nothing mystical about the Golden Lane, lined with small, toy-like houses. There are only souvenir shops and crowds of tourists wishing to see old interiors recreated inside the houses. However, according to urban legend, this is where alchemists, pseudo-scientists, and witches lived in the olden times, although the official story says that these were homes of guards of the Castle and jewelers. According to the main guide on Prague mysticism—“The Golem”, a novel by Gustav Meyrink—the Golden Lane leads to the House At The Last Lantern, which can only be seen in the fog. This house is a boundary between worlds, whose tenants will one day be responsible for the end of the world.
Look at Prague’s house symbols and learn their secrets. There are stories about most of Prague’s house signs, which were used as house numbers till the end of the 17th century. Most of these stories are surreal. For example, according to urban legend, this house was inhabited by an alchemist who turned a boy patient into a donkey out of pure spite. However, the boy was cured with a good dose of prayer. Now this house is a museum of alchemy with an underground lab, ancient manuscripts and stuffed animals. It looks a bit dramatic to adults, but children of all ages will enjoy it.
See the city in the light of the gas lamps. Since 2002, the Prague authorities have gradually been restoring the authentic gas lights and even lamplighters wearing dark cloaks to the old part of the city. Now the city has hundreds of gas lamps, most of which line the Royal Route—the road that was used by monarchs to go to their coronation, extending from the Powder Gate to Prague Castle. Tourists can experience the unsettling, mysterious mood of European cities, lit by gas lights in the 19th – early 20th centuries, at Hradčany square, among other places. However, this perception is a modern one since the light of the gas lamps looked rather like progress to people in the old times.
See for yourself that stealing is not allowed. The Gothic Church of the 13th century, rebuilt in the Baroque style in the late 17th century, is quite interesting, not to mention the related horror stories. One story is about the Chancellor Václav Vratislav, buried here in the 18th century. For some time, the pastors and parishioners could not figure out where the weird noises were coming from. After a while, they opened the sarcophagus to find that, judging by the position of the body, the Chancellor was accidentally buried alive. On the wall to the right of the entrance, a mummified human hand is hung. They say it’s the hand of a thief who tried to steal jewels from the statue of the Virgin Mary, whereupon the statue grabbed his hand and never released it, so the hand had to be cut off.
See Doctor Faust’s house. The story of Dr. Faust, who sold his soul to the devil, is famously featured in Goethe’s masterpiece. However, Goethe’s inspiration came from the legend about the magician Faust that was widespread in Europe since the 16th century. According to popular rumor in Prague, the doctor lived in a pink house with a garden on the south side of Charles Square. It was here that the devil came to take Faust’s soul, in accordance with the contract, although it ended up taking the entire doctor through a hole in the roof. Most likely, scientists and alchemists really did live in this house in the 15th–16th centuries. The last strange tenant lived in Faust’s house at the beginning of the 20th century. It was the priest Karl Jaenig, who collected dead people’s possessions, slept in a coffin, and bequeathed to harness a team of wolves to his hearse.