Svaneapotek – Aalborg, Denmark - Atlas Obscura

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From buck blood to Theriak miracle tonic, this collection of Renaissance chemist's gear look's like a wizard's pantry. 


Held in the Renaissance manse of wealthy 15th century Denmark citizen, Jens Bang, the Svaneapotek chemist collection is an odd and wondrous display of the strange medicinal remedies popular hundreds of years ago.

Alternately known as the “Swan Pharmacy” collection, the historic display of apothecary ingredients, equipment, and furniture has called the building home for more than 350 years. Originally, the chemist’s stores were located in a ground-floor storefront. But as medicinal technology evolved and the science improved, many of the ingredients and tools were found to be obsolete and were stored away in the house’s attic, and rarely touched again.

Sitting in the attic as the centuries passed, the collection became a sort of time capsule of historic Danish medicine. Among the odd remedies on display are Spanish fly (which was said to aid the libido), dried buck blood, whale oil, and even a bottle of a miracle tonic known as “Theriak.” Made of dozens of ingredients including snake meat and opium, this magic potion was said to make the sick well. 

Today the collection of archaic medicines and remedies is still located in the attic of the Jen Bang House, and visitors can set up a tour of the weird larder. However, sampling the medicine is not recommended for good health.




Know Before You Go

As of summer 2021, guided one-hour tours are arranged in the evening once a week. Tickets have to be booked in advance from the website. The price per person is 90 DKK.

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