Under its picturesque guise, Prague is a city with deep occult lore, from hidden alchemical laboratories to the Golem legend to many a ghost story. So it may be no wonder that there’s a historic Baroque-style building called the Faust House, named after the famous scholar who made a deal with the devil Mephistopheles, selling his soul for otherworldly knowledge and power.
While the magician Johann Georg Faust was a real person, active in the first half of the 16th century, he is not known to have ever visited Prague in his life. It wasn’t until after his lifetime that Prague’s golden age of alchemy began, under the rule and patronage of the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II.
Several alchemists have called the Faust House home during Rudolf II’s reign and beyond, including Sir Edward Kelley, the renowned English occultist who allegedly could turn base metal into gold and even create the philosopher’s stone. Probably stemming from this history, the house has birthed many fantastical legends, from secret chambers and tunnels containing a hidden hoard of treasure to magical springs to writings on the walls.
Some also claim that when the devil came to take Faust’s soul, he left nothing but a scorched hole in his study. As one of the legends goes, a poor student named Mladota recklessly took a night’s lodging at the House after getting evicted from his flat, only to find a silver thaler coin upon awakening. Overjoyed at his good fortune, he went on to recite magic spells he had found in Faust’s grimoires hoping to earn more money from the devil. As a result, as expected, Mladota’s soul was taken away to hell leaving only a gaping hole in the ceiling.
Today, the building serves as a hospital belonging to the First Faculty of Medicine of Charles University and unfortunately is not open to the public, standing like an enigma not to be solved.