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Faust’s House - History

Faust's House - History

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The Faust’s House is introduced in historical materials as Mladotovský Palace No.502/II, At the Cattle Market.

12th century - so called "Slavošovský" House fortified court with tower - at the Royal Road (defensive function - loopholes - in the bay windows)

13th century - (since the year l269) - "Opavský" House – Opava princeses (Nicholas - illegimate child of Premysl Otakar the Second)

14th century - under the reign of Charles the Fourth development of New Town of Prague, the house reconstructed in Renaissance style in the second half of the 16th century. (The New Town Hall and the Faust’s House are situated in the opposite corners of Charles Square, originally Cattle Market which interlinked significant sacral buildings of very symbolic and sofisticated architectonic plan of medieval city - Prague Magic).

16th century - from 1590 the House was owned by alchimist Kelley and further owner Mladota of Solopysky carried out their chemical experiments - thus both of them originated in connection with the House the tale of doctor Faust.

18th century - in the second quarter of the 18th century F.M.Kanka and K.A.Schmidt about the year 1769 rebuilt the House into the present style.

About the King of Magicians from the Faust’s House
(Old legends of Prague)

At the corner of the present Charles Square at the place called "Na skalce" (On the Hill) there is standing an ancient, dismal house. In the time of Charles the Fourth it was owned by the princeses of Opava, then it changed the owners very often till 1724 when the family of Mladota of Solopysky took the ownership. It is known that one of the family, Josef Mladota of Solopysky, was passionately interested in chemistry and physics and sometimes even in alchemy. This is probably the beginning of the legends about this old house.

In the time of princeses of Opava, Johannes doctor Faust, lived for a certain time in the house alone. He performed a lot of magics and witchcraft, boiled mysterious powders in flasks and beakers, he knew how to read in the stars, was surrounded by the witchcraft literature and it is said that he was able to call the devil in order to serve him. For these services he subscribed his soul to the devil. The devil fulfilled all his wishes and commands but as soon as the term has expired he took his master to the hell and there remained only a black hole in the ceiling through which the famous magician has disappeared.

The new owners wanted to wall up the opening but nobody succeded. In the evening the mason closed the hole by bricks and mortar but in the next morning the bricks were lying on the floor and the black opening stinked of fire and sulphur. During the night the ghost of Faust appeared in the halls and corridors and so no wonder that nobody stayed for a long time in this haunting house and new tenants quickly moved into another place.

After some time the house was bought by a rich foreigner and soon all the people in the neighbourhood knew that the new owner was not different from his predecessor. Light in the windows from the evenings to the mornings, the neighbours saw behind the window various flasks, dishes of brass and copper and pots with colourful liquids and from time to time a firework of orange, green and violet lights shining at nights. The curious fellows found out soon that the foreigner is interested not only in the magic art but also in cabalism and black magic, and reads also in old and yellowish pergaments of doctor Faust.

The new owner soon heard from his servants what kind of interest his activities have provoked in his neighbourhood, he did not want to frighten people and decided to show them the results of his research and his mysterious experiments. He invited an Italian builder who was just staying in New Town and ordered him to repair the vaulted hall with pictures of the moon, stars and other signs in the sky and at this occasion to wall up the strange opening in the ceiling.

The builder ordered the masons to make bricks and mortar ready, but they were not willing to do the job because they were afraid of devil’s revenge. In vain the builder begged them, even thretened them and explained that nothing can happen them but masons did not want to touch the opening in the ceiling. When the owner of the house learnt about it, he brought a big book covered by dust from the Faust’s library. He read for a while in illegible language and annouced to the builder that his people can go to work without fear. They did not like it but after all they agreed and walled up the opening in the ceiling. When next day they opened the door they were amazed.On the floor they could not find a piece of rubbish and on the ceiling the plaster was slowly getting dry, the opening was finally walled up. The news about the foreigner’s activities spread through whole Prague and people started to belive that finally somebody was able to break the power of the ruler of the hell. And that was the wish of the foreigner. He utilized the arosed interest and invited the guests from whole Prague to show them his arts.

He performed such wonders that onlookers stopped breathing. The new Faust evoked in the colourful smoke the ghosts of the dead, by waving of his hand the whole flock of doves appeared and on his order sweet music sounded in the hall. To the stage he invited a lady from the public selected at haphazard,covered her with a black curtain and when he removed the curtain again, the chair was empty and the lady was sitting in her place among the onlookers as if she had not disappered at all. He witchcrafted handful of manycoloured flowers, he presented to the amazed guests singing sculptures and a metal virgin who sprayed them with water, a stone boy beating strongly the drum. Objects appeared and again disappeared, tables with three legs and small bottles with coloured tinctures flying in the air as being without weight, his servant was hidden in a case, the magician pierced him with the sword and when the case was opened again, the servant was alive and healthy. As soon as the foreigner saw that anxiety appearing in the faces of the onlookers he immediately changed the programme and showed merry tricks only, so that the bad atmosphere disappeared soon and the onlookers laughted themselves helpless into fits.

The most carefully selected members of society met in those days in the house "Na skalce" and so no wonder that evenings with the extravagant foreigner belonged to the special events of Prague life. One day when the foreigner was preparing his further performance the servant announced him that an unknown foreign lady wanted to talk to the owner of the house about an urgent affair. The magician thought that the unknown lady wanted to see his evening performance and so entered the reception room with the cheerful smile. But it was a strange lady, she was veiled in a black dress completely, her face was also hidden in black veil out of which only two glittering eyes were shining. The magician felt that within a minute he lost all his certainty. He greeted her by a courteous bow and asked in an agitated voice what he could do for her. It showed that he envisaged correctly. The lady told him that he was mentioned with enthusiasm all over the country and finally she admitted that she came from the long distance just only to see his art. The magician thanked her politely and invited her to evening performance. However, he felt that there is something wrong with the foreign lady, he lost his usual peace and with worries was waiting for the approaching evening.

Finally the day of the performance came. The hall was decorated by colourful curtains, the stars were shining in the blue ceiling as if it were the night’s sky full of stars with moon. Little marmor tables with magic instruments were standing in front and the sweet music was filling the hall. The magician jumped on the platform and he saw immediately a black-dressed lady in the first row. She was sitting quietly without a single movement, her face was covered by black veil, out of which two evil-eyed black eyes like black coal were shining. The magician performed a few intoductory tricks and stepped back for a while to wipe sweat of his forehead. He leaned to his servant and asked him in a low voice whether the black-dressed lady arrived on her own or whether somebody accompanied her. The servant gazed at him with surprise."No lady dressed in black arrived." The magician looked into the first row and felt dizzy. "The lady in the first row", he said quietly, "you could not failed to see her." "In the first row there is no lady dressed in black", said the servant with uncertainty."In the middle there is an empty chair only."

Magician’s body started to shiver with cold. He felt cold sweat on his forehead and gazing at the black-dressed lady he returned back to continue his performance. But he had no success that evening. His hands were trembling, he lost his certainty and his only thought was to finish his performance as soon as possible. He hurried up, shortened quite a lot of tricks or omitted them completely but he did not succeed to calm down. Moreover , with one of the tricks, his magic wand fell down. It was rolling on the platform and stopped only in front of the lady dressed in black. The unknown lady slowly stood up, lifted the wand and handed it over to the stiff magician.

"I expected more from you", whispered the strange visitor. "Let me show you something better" .She stopped talking and magician’s head swam. In front of him was not standing a black-dressed lady any more but a tall gentleman with a turban on his head and the unhappy man realized with horror that he was looking at his own face. The same face, the same dress even the same wand in his hand. His wraith jumped on the platform, bowed, lights in the hall were switched off and suddenly sharp, orange light was shining in the blue- coloured ceiling. In the air a few shadows were to be seen and from the rows frightened cries of spectators were heard. Several ladies jumped out of their chairs and in a wild panic they dashed to the doors.

The host finally came to his senses. "Who are you?", he asked in a low voice. "I am the king of magicians.", answered quietly the unknown, standing close to him. "I came to give you a lesson." He elevated his wand over the spectators again and with a concealed pride he added. "Can you manage that?" The spectators got stiff in their chairs, nobody moved, from the ceiling thousands of stars were shining, and the master of the house realized suddenly that there are sitting skeletons in the beautiful garments in front of him. The rows of skeletons, sitting motionless gazing at him through empty hollows without eyes, staring at him and they are silent. Suddenly a queer sound sounded in the hall and the magician saw the spectators getting off their chairs, smiling with their fleshless mouths and applauding with their bony hands.

The hall swam with him and the magician lost his consciousness. It took long, long time before he recovered again. The best physicians were in turn at his bed, the patient was raving in high temperature and constantly talking about a ceratin lady, skeletons, about the ghost of doctor Faust. Long weeks he was staggering between life and death. Finally the temperature has stopped and the owner of Faust’s House started to recover slowly and after all the illness was conquered.

Since that time he was completely changed. In his mind he saw the rows of skeletons again and again and he was trembling of horror whether the queer lady in the black dress and with veiled face will appear again. At nights he waked with horror and long hours was listening to sounds in the house, during days he was rambling through the corridors as if haunted by a ghost.He lost all love for his experiments, sold old magic instruments, apparatuses, pots and measurement instruments, broke statues of drummer and virgin, burnt the Faust’s volumes, released the servant and hastily left Prague, nobody knows where to. He has never appeared in Prague again, he was lost somewhere far away and nobody heard about him any more. Thus, however, the tale about Faust’s House does not come to an end. The old narrate that a young student moved into empty rooms. Next morning he found a white ducat in a bowl on the table amidst Faust’s library, next day again and then again each next day. Finally he could have eaten enough, buy a new suit, invite friends into his new home. In a short time he liked his comfortable life so much that his white ducat was not enough for him. He desired to have more and more and when he found an old forgotten magic book in the bay window of the library, he plunged into the old letters and searched for the direction how to conjure gold instead of white ducat.

One day his friends were waiting for him in vain. Then they came to the old house with the red roof and when they entered the hall where he used to sleep, they were paralysed by terror. Pages from the torn book were scattered on the floor in a wild panic and in the ceiling a big black hole was to be seen, stinking of sulphur and smoke.

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