On the Esquiline hill near Piazza Vittoria are the remains of the villa built by the marquis Palombara. Of interest is the Alchemical Door, a magic portal. One night the the alchemist Giustiniano Bono, disguised as a pilgrim, spent the night in the villa. While everyone was sleeping, he searched the garden looking for a herb with the Midas’ Touch. He was last seen going through the Alchemical Door. Near the door flakes of gold were found as well as a paper full of mysterious writings and symbols. The marquis had these symbols engraved on all the villa’s gates hoping someone could translate them.
Flanking the door are two grotesque creatures probably representing the Egyptian divinity Bes.
There have been claims that Athanasius Kircher and Bernini helped design the door. Apparently in 1656, after visiting Christina of Sweden’s alchemical laboratory in Riario Palace (now Palazzo Corsini), the marquis Palombara became interested in alchemical transmutation.
“It is indeed absolutely plain that all things seen by us are in truth other than what they seem.” Athanasius Kircher, The Great Art of Light and Shadow (1646)