Searching for the Magical Portal in Rome

Searching for the Magical Portal in Rome

In August 2016 I attended a workshop at Tauhara with Franchelle Ofsoské-Wyber of First Light Flower Essences.  The workshop was about Alchemy and Magic and was absolutely fabulous. 

During the weekend I heard about the Magical Doorway in Rome, which sent my imagaination going, and my determination to find the doorway while in Rome later in Septemer.

To my surprize the original doorway had long been removed from the the villa to make way for a new suburb.  Because of its antiquity value the doorway has been placed in a gated area in a park in Rome, not too far a walk from the main train station. 

Unfortunately because of the gating around it I was unable to get any closer than the photo suggests.  But at least I found it!

The Porta Alchémica – Alchemical Gateway

In the central district of Piazza Vittorio, inside the park, the remains of an old villa reveal a Magic or Alchemist Door, a portal into the real and secretive world of 1600s alchemy.

It is the only one of five gates into the Marquis Palombara's villa that remains and has inscribed on its surface numerous alchemical symbols and phrases.

It was built during the early 1600s by the Roman marquis Massimiliano Palombara, a member of a group of people known as “The Alchemists of Palazzo Riario” who congregated around the Roman court of Christina of Sweden, the Queen Regent of Sweden.

Queen Christina of Sweden

Queen Christina of SwedenChristina was an ardent supporter of alchemy and science, and thinkers and science luminaries like Decarte and Athanasius Kircher were often found in her Italian court along with alchemy enthusiasts like Massimiliano Palombara.

Her interest in alchemy also has some intriguing Rosicrucain connections. The original Rosicrucians pamphlets of 1614 spread high expectations for a new age and a universal reformation of the arts and were circulated among radical Paracelsians in Northern Europe.

According to legend, the Marquis met an alchemist at a dinner party who told him he could use a certain herb to turn metals to gold.

In the morning the alchemist (said to be Giuseppe Francesco Borri, a sort of alchemical zelig) was gone but had left behind some gold flakes, evidence apparently of his successful transformations, and an indecipherable sheet, the “recipe” for the transformation.

Because the Marquis was unable to read it he inscribed the recipe on his doors in the hope that someone who could understand it would see it and come knocking.

The Signs on the Doorway

Signs on the DoorwayThe Porta Magica is topped with the Hebrew inscription Ruach Elohim or the Spirit of the Lord and around the emblem is the text:


Also on the Porta there is an inscription alluding to the travels of the Argonauts:

(The hesperian dragon guards the opening of the the magical garden and without Hercules Iason would not have tasted the delicasies of Colchis).

From left to right the inscriptions state

(When in your house black ravens will give birth to white doves, then you are going to be called wise).

(The diameter of the sphere, the tau of the circle, the cross of the globe, are of no use to the world).

(He who knows how to burn with water and wash with fire makes out of the earth heaven and out of the heaven precious earth).

(If you will throw the earth over your head with its hair you will convert into stone the torrents of water).

(When azoth and fire whitens Latona, Diana will come without clothes).

(Our dead son lives, the king turns from the fire and takes pleasure in the occult conjunction).

(It is the occult work of the true sapients to open the earth in order to generate salvation for the people).

On the threshold there is the short line which can be read both ways:

(If you sit you cannot go, if you don’t sit go).

The particular drawing on the pediment of the gate, with two overlapping triangles and Latin inscriptions, recapitulates the title page in the posthumous 1677 edition—which differed from the title page of the first edition—of the alchemical book Aureum Saeculum Redivivum (1621) by Adrian von Mynsicht (known also as Madathanus).

In 1747 the emblem was used by Wienner von Sonnenfels in his Splendor lucis, oder Glanz des Lichts. Similarly, the lower part of the emblem by von Mynsicht depicting a "centrum in trigono centri", was reproduced in a manuscript called the Geheime Figuren der Rosencreutzer (1785–88).

The same drawing appear in a bookmark possessed by Bérenger Saunière, a parish priest at Rennes-le-Château in 1885.

It is suggested as well that the geometrical construction of the gate is similar to that of the 21st emblem of Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens (1617).

Posted: Thu 06 Sep 2018