Alchemical Room House with a Tower, Biecz

Biecz. Laboratorium alchemiczne

Centuries ago, this room served as an alchemical laboratory, a so-called 'pharmacy kitchen', i.e., a back room where medicines and other items that pharmacies carried in the past were made. The room was equipped with a small fireplace that had a cauldron placed above it. Alchemy, the practice of attempting to transform metals, dates back to the Middle Ages. As Sigmund Gloger wrote in the ‘Old Polish Encyclopaedia’ (‘Encyklopedia Staropolska’): '”Alchemy” is a word composed of the Arabic prefix “al” and the Greek word “chymeia”, “chemeia”. In Greek, “chymeia” signifies a mixture, and so, alchemy is the name of the chemistry of the past, i.e., a medieval science whose goal was to discover a way to transform base metals into precious metals, and above all, the art of creating gold. In the Middle Ages, no other skill was pursued with as much zeal, none were the subject of as much research, exploration, and dispute as alchemy. And although they did not invent what could not be invented, chemistry owes its origin to alchemists, and many metallurgical discoveries have to be credited to them as well.’ In the Middle Ages, it was believed that rare and mysterious medicines made from expensive ingredients from overseas were more effective and were taken despite the often disgusting taste and exorbitant price.

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