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Magical doorways in Rome

On my recent visit to Rome, quite by chance I stumbled on a magical doorway (so I thought). I had images of a bar, with sex orgies, demonic possession of Italian Virgins and occult sciences. Little did I know, I might have been on the right track to what the original doorway represented.

Magical Doorway

I asked a researcher friend of mine (Alicia Larsson) if she knew what the doorway meant, she was flummoxed. So we had to research further and dig deeper.

“About the photo you sent. I don’t know Hebrew, but I think the large lettering at the top could be Hebrew. The test beneath, the larger text is superimposed on the smaller or the other way around, but I think some words are in Spanish or Italian, though it’s difficult to distinguish them.”

Hebrew Alphabet

We were only guessing what the characters meant, so trying to find the name of the shop/club, was the next best alternative. Mobile phones are amazing and the photograph still had it’s geolocation stored and Alicia was able to find the name of the shop/club from there.

Map of Italy


Amazingly, now we have the club name -L’Alchimista and the address –Via Bartolomeo Bossi, 6, 00154 Rome, Italy and website With all this added information, I decided to write to them, asking for more information. 

This is their response

“Hi dear! We’re glad that you appreciated our entrance! Yes of course; it’s a replication of the “Porta Alchemica”

Best regards L’Alchimista”

Researching about the area I found:- At its center is a vast garden, at whose northern end rise the majestic but decadent ruins of the nymphaeum of Alexander Severus (III century), commonly known as the Mario’s Trophies, these vestiges remind us of the ancient history of the neighborhood, populated since the seventh century BC, where during the imperial age several wealthy Romans possessed rich suburban estates, which benefited from the network of water pipes that entered Rome following the path of the neighbors city ​​walls.

Researching further – Massimiliano Palombara, marquis of Pietraforte (1614-1680) was also fascinated by the esoteric sciences, some of which he himself actively practiced. His economic resources and his social position allowed him to finance a certain number of alchemists.In his villa were also held meetings, which were attended by important personalities who shared his own interests, including Queen Christina of Sweden, who lived in Rome after abdicating, the well-known astronomer Domenico Cassini, the distinguished scholar Father Athanasius Kircher and others.

Massimiliano Palombara was a member of the Rosicrucians; this was a famous esoteric order, whose symbol was the Rose Cross. It was founded for the first time in 1407 by a German occultist named Christian Rosenkreuz (who may never have existed), who had completed his studies of occultism in the Holy Land. The order was extinct in the 16th century, but was subsequently refounded at the beginning of the seventeenth century.

The Rosicrucian doctrine covered various scientific fields. His practices, however, were always impregnated with mysticism, and were based on the concept that only initiated initiates could have access to the secrets of such knowledge, in this anticipating modern masonry. Therefore Villa Palombara was provided with a small separate annex, probably a laboratory, where the alchemical conventions and experiments had secretly taken place, almost as part of a ritual.

A young Milanese doctor and alchemist, Giuseppe Borri, who had been expelled from the Jesuit college where he studied because of his great interest in occultism, came to Rome and joined the club of Villa Palombara.

Stories say that Borri, was financed by the Marquis, who conducted numerous experiments, doing his best to find the mythical philosopher’s stone that would allow him to turn matter into gold. But one night he suddenly left – this really happened, when the papal Inquisition started on its tracks – leaving behind a certain number of parchments on which were reported complex formulas, which no one was able to interpret. So Massimiliano Palombara had them engraved on the access door of his laboratory (or, according to another version, it was Borri himself who recorded them before leaving).


There is also the Porta Magica raised in 1680 in the Roman garden of Palombara which carries a portal stone with an emblem from Henricus Madathanus’ alchemical allegory Aureum Seculum Redivivum of 1621. It consists of a cross above a circle in which is inscribed a hexagram with the text “centrum in trigono centri.” Mino Gabriele draws attention to the geometrical construction and shows that it is similar to that of the 21st emblem of Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens (Frankfurt 1617) where a man with a pair of compasses is in the process of constructing a hexagram by drawing a triangle within a larger circle while at its base a square is placed within a smaller circle. Palombara’s door is flanked by alchemical insignia and various Latin device describe the alchemical process. The seven signs are taken from Johannes de Monte-Snyder, Commentatio de Pharmaco Catholico (Amsterdam 1666 ) and are in sequence: Saturn-lead, Jupiter-tin, Mars-iron, Venus-bronze, Mercury, Antinomy and Vitriol. The door still stands to be seen on Piazza Vittorio Emanuele in Rome.

Pazza Vittorio Emanuele (for the locals, simply Piazza Vittorio) is one of the largest and most animated of Rome, located in the heart of the Esquilino district. Built and arranged in the current forms around 1890, it is enclosed on all four sides by large buildings in the typical style of the late nineteenth century and at street level is surrounded by an unbroken series of arches, crowded with shops, many of which are managed by members of the large Chinese community.”

A legend circulates saying that the door was raised as a commemoration of a successfull transmutation that took place in Christina’s chambers. This version of events was first told in 1804 in an Italian description of Rome in which it is said that northern youth, a “giovane ultramontane,” came to Christina’s court and produced some scraps of gold, but that he then disappeared. As we have seen Christina actually owns Palombara’s alchemical manuscript La Bugia and other verse by him. She also accorded him functions in her court and supported his family after his death. Christina was thus Palombara’s patron and this extended to his alchemical poetry.

Her “inspiring proximity” and resources were valued also by other literary men. After her death she was elected symbolical head, “Basilissa,” of the poets forming the Academia Arcadia, thus continuing her own series of academies held in her palace. The Porta Magica is topped with the Hebrew inscription Ruach Elohim or the Spirit of the Lord and around the emblem is the text: TRIA SUNT MIRABILIA DEUS ET HOMO MATER ET VIRGO TRINUS ET UNUS. In another plate, now lost, was the device VILLAE IANUAM TRANANDO RECLUDENS IASON OBTINET LOCUPLES VELLUS MEDEAE 1680 (Passing by opening the door of the villa, Jason obtained the rich fleece of Medea 1680). Also on the Porta there is an inscription alluding to the travels of the Argonauts: HORTI MAGICI INGRESSUM HESPERIUS CUSTODIT DRACO ET/ SINE ALCIDE COLCHIAS DELICIAS NON GUSTASSET IASON (The hesperian dragon guards the opening of the the magical garden and without Hercules Jason would not have tasted the delicasies of Colchis). From left to right the inscriptions state QUANDO IN TUA DOMO NIGRI CORVI PARTURIENT ALBAS COLUMBAS TUNC VOCABERIS SAPIENS (When in your house black ravens will give birth to white doves, then you are going to be called wise). DIAMETER SPHAERAE THAU CIRCULI CRUX ORBIS NON ORBIS PROSUNT (The diameter of the sphere, the tau of the circle, the cross of the globe, are of no use to the world).

QUI SCIT COMBURERE AQUA ET LAVARE IGNE FACIT DE TERRA CAELUM ET DE CAELO TERRAM PRETIOSAM (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). SI FECERIS VOLARE TERRAM SUPER CAPUT TUUM EIUS PENNIS AQUAS TORRENTUM CONVERTES IN PETRAM (If you will throw the earth over your head with its hair you will convert into stone the torrents of water). AZOTH ET IGNIS DEALBANDO LATONAM VENIET SINE VESTE DIANA (When azoth and fire whitens Latona, Diana will come without clothes). FILIUS NOSTER MORTUS VIVIT REX AB IGNE REDIT ET CONIUGO GAUDET OCCULTO (Our dead son lives, the king turns from the fire and takes pleasure in the occult conjunction). EST OPUS OCCULTUM VERI SOPHI APERIRE TERRAM UT GERMINET SALUTEM PRO POPULO (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: SI SEDES NON IS (If you sit you cannot go, if you don’t sit go).

In the same year, 1680, a tract was published at Ulm by Johannes de Monte Hermetis with the title: Explicatio Centri in Trigono Centri per Somnium – Das ist: Erläuterung dess Hermetischen Güldenen Fluss. The text contains five parts, first an Aenigma Cabalisticum, then the explicatio centri in trigono centri and then two alchemical commentaries on the operations in the Opus Philosophicum written by “dem Löwen dess Rothen Creutzes”. Last was a text on astronomical medicine, on how to cure illness through the mediation of the stars. The explicatio describes the merging of the upward and downward triangles representing philosophical fire and philosophical water and is contemporary with the raising of the Porta Magica but, disappointingly, it does not shed further light on Palombara’s initiative.”


It became Rome, capital of the kingdom, with the master plan of 1883 unfortunately Villa Palombara was completely demolished as part of the construction of the new Esquilino district.


The disk that overlooks the door


The Magic Doorway was the entrance to the villa’s alchemical laboratory

It became Rome, capital of the kingdom, with the master plan of 1883 unfortunately Villa Palombara was completely demolished as part of the construction of the new Esquilino district.

The only tiny part that survived was the access portal to the annex, the one that today is called Porta Magica in Piazza Vittorio, although Porta Alchemica would be a more appropriate name. During the twentieth century it was slightly moved from its original position and placed behind the imposing ruins of the nymphaeum, fenced with a metal gate.

The Alchemic Gate, symbol of western alchemy and the only survivor among the five doors of Villa Palombara is considered as the highest testimony of the European magical alchemic tradition and is said to preserve the secret of the philosopher’s stone.

It consists of a small portal, now walled, surrounded by a jamb of white stone covered with alchemical symbols, and flanked by two bizarre statues.

Above the door is a large disc ( [1] in the figure on the right) with a double six-pointed star-shaped triangle of King Solomon, surrounded by the motto “TRI SVNT MIRABILIA DEVS ET HOMO MATER ET VIRGO TRINVS ET VNVS” “there are three wonderful things: God and man, mother and virgin, one and three. A circle surmounted by a cross is superimposed on the star and bears another motto, “CENTRVM IN TRIGONO CENTRI” the center is in the triangle of the center”

In the highest part of the jamb (a side post or surface of a doorway, window) an inscription in Hebrew “RUAH ELOHIM” “Divine Spirit” immediately below there is a mythological reference to Jason: “HORTI MAGICI INGRESSVM HESPERIVS CVSTODIT DRACO ET SINE ALCIDE COLCHICAS DELICIAS NOT GVSTASSET IASON” “the dragon of the Hesperides guards the entrance of the magical garden and without Ercole Giasone would not have tasted the delights of the Colchis” In fact, the alchemists identified the Golden Fleece sought by Giasone in the ancient myth of the Argonauts with the philosopher’s stone, the fundamental objective of their studies.


The invocation to the Divine Spirit


The Magic Doorway (19th century engraving)

The uprights of the jamb, [6] and [7] , bear symbols of the planets (each of which corresponded a god and a metal) and mutes in alternate order, from top to bottom, according to this sequence:

Not my video, but found it quite interesting.


Thank you so much to Alicia Larsson a researcher who lives in Sweden. To contact Alicia please follow this linked link to her profile Alicia Larsson

To read more click on the links below

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