The Alchemist’s Chamber: Taking On Prague’s Mind Maze

by Audrey on May 11, 2014 · 35 comments

One of my favourite activities in Prague is something that I actually can’t tell you very much about because it would simply spoil the game; yet it’s something I enjoyed so much that I can’t keep it all to myself because I think everyone passing through the city should try it out! So in the interest of introducing you to one of the city’s best kept secrets, I will try my best to explain Prague’s Mind Maze while still sounding really ambiguous and not giving any clues away…

The Alchemist's Chamber, Mind Maze, Prague

Did you ever watch “Fort Boyard” as a child? It was a French game show from the 90s that was filmed in a fortification out at sea off the coast of France. The whole premise of the game was that each team had to solve riddles, find keys, unlock clues, and use their minds to solve the task in front of them in order to win the gold and escape this scary fort located out in the Pertuis d’Antioche Straits. This was one of my favourite TV shows as a child and even though it didn’t come on until 10:00 p.m., I would stay up past my bedtime to watch the teams get locked in cells, decipher obscure riddles, piece clues together, win gold, and ultimately escape! Now doesn’t that sound like a fun game?

If you didn’t grow up watching this show, did you ever play Encyclopaedia Encarta MindMaze on the computer? Again taking you back to the 90s, this was a digital multimedia game set in an old castle, where you had to go from room to room – picture creepy looking dungeons and stone-walled chambers filled with treasure chests – and answer trivia questions in order to get past each door.

Well, Prague’s Mind Maze is a combination of these two games, except that YOU get to be the player, and YOU have to use your mind to find your way out!

Located on a quiet little backstreet, you press the buzzer on a purple door and enter a dimly lit building where the signs lead towards the basement. You descend the spiralling stairs and are met by someone who takes you into a room, sits you down on a sofa, and explains the goal of the game:

“You have 60 minutes to find the Philosopher’s Stone and use it to escape the Alchemist’s Chamber.”

That’s it.

You and your team enter the Alchemist’s Chamber where the door locks behind you.

Inside it feels like you’ve travelled back in time several centuries. There are stone walls, mysterious manuscripts, and bottles filled with colourful potions. You are surrounded by wooden chests, writing desks and little boxes, all of which are locked!

You start picking things up, turning them around, flipping through books in search of clues. You try pushing furniture to see if it will unlock a secret trap door. You shake sculptures, pick up glass balls, sift through pebbles – are any of them the Philosopher’s Stone?

The Alchemist's Chamber, Mind Maze, Prague

You’re in a live game and it’s kind of surreal. You and your teammate work your way around the room. You are looking for something, but at the same time you don’t really know what you’re looking for so you don’t want to discard any clues. What seems useless now may come in handy once you’re further in the game. But right now, you’re just looking for the first clue to get things rolling.

You open a leather folder and pull out sheets – drawings of the human body, botanical studies, cryptic astronomical symbols – what do they all mean?

You feel your way around walls. Stare at paintings. Will this candle come in handy? What’s this giant key for? Where are the missing puzzle pieces?

A black raven stares down at you and a hooting owl signals that you have already spent 15 minutes trying to piece together the clues that will ultimately help you get out of this room. You need to sort through the objects that are there to help you versus those that are there to distract you.

You find the first key and unlock a series of locks which get you one step closer, but you get stuck again. You need something to move forward, but what?

You look behind curtains, pick up magnifying glasses, find more keys than you know what to do with. What is the walking stick for? Dare I stick my finger in the bubbling cauldron? What’s the meaning behind the colours on the pentagram? So many numbers. So many locks. There must be another key!

It’s been half an hour. How much further do you have to go? Are you any closer to finding a way to escape the Alchemist’s Chamber?

You unlock something which opens a whole slew of possibilities. This could change the game. Things are colour coded, and there are more numbers. You try to recall the roman numerals you learned in elementary school. Are you supposed to be using the numbers now or later?

You tear through the room again to see if you’ve somehow missed something. Clues. Clues. You are looking for clues.

You start to think you’re just over-analyzing everything you see in the room, but no, it must be there for a reason! It must serve a purpose.

You manage to unlock the trap door and find yourself in another chamber. There are more mysteries to unravel, but you’re running out of time! The bells are ringing signalling that you only have 15 minutes left in the game. If only you had another 30 minutes you could surely figure this all out! There is so much to look at. So many objects to pick up and analyze; they could all mean something!

The Alchemist's Chamber, Mind Maze, Prague

You go back to that astronomical clock – you know it’s important. But why? Are those planetary symbols or zodiac symbols? And which is it that you need to move forward?

Aghhh, you need more time! You know you can do this!!

And then, it’s over.

Sam and I didn’t manage to escape the Alchemists’s Chamber, but what an exhilarating hour it was.

We saw the Philosopher’s Stone – we gazed at its mysterious beauty with our eyes and it was within our reach! – but we ultimately ran out of time trying to decipher a much needed equation.

I really can’t tell you anymore because I don’t want to give away any secrets, however, if you do find yourself in Prague and are up for a mind challenge, then you can’t skip out on the Mind Maze.

All you need is some logic, imagination, and a team with good problem-solving skills.

This was seriously one of the highlights of my visit!

More details:

To experience Mind Maze Prague, you must make your booking online ahead of time. This escape room game is quite popular with the underground gaming crowd and a few curious minds, so it’s best to make your reservation a few days in advance.

You need between 2-4 people to play the game, and the price is 1200 CZK for the group, regardless of whether there are 2 or 4 of you.

You have 60 minutes to solve the game and you will be armed with a walkie-talkie should you get stuck and need help at any point during the game. Someone will be watching you through webcam so if you hit the wall, you can ask for clues!

Have you ever played a ‘room escape game’ anywhere else around the world?

If so, let me know in the comments below. I’m hooked and I can’t wait to try this somewhere else!

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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan Thompson May 11, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Cool!! I’ve been to Prague twice and have managed to never hear of this place. If I ever make it back there I’ll have to try this out; sounds right up our alley!

Thanks for sharing!
Dan
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Jesse May 11, 2014 at 3:57 pm

This sounds so cool! I defiantly want to try this! I didn’t even know things like this existed. Well something to add to the to do list.
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Rachel of Hippie in Heels May 11, 2014 at 3:58 pm

THAT IS SO FREAKIN COOL. I have got to try that! Shame you guys didn’t make it through the end, but next time you surely will.
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Audrey May 11, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Even if you don’t manage to escape the Alchemist’s Chamber within the hour, it’s still kind of cool because they walk you through the rest of the game at the very end so you can see what you were missing. It’s a good thing they do because otherwise I would have been mulling the puzzles in my head for days wondering where I had wrong! Haha ;)

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Caitlyn May 11, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Wow! I have been to Prague over a dozen times and I never knew that this place even existed! Definitely another reason to return, it sounds brilliant!
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Audrey May 11, 2014 at 6:45 pm

It’s a fairly new game and it’s also hidden on a little unassuming street, so it’s really easy to miss unless you know about it. I highly HIGHLY recommend it if you’re ever back in town! It was a blast!! :)

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Mark May 11, 2014 at 4:34 pm

That’s awesome, I will have to put it on my Prague bucket list. Do you think it would have helped if you had one more person to help you?
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Audrey May 11, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Yes, if you can gather a few more friends and make it 4 it might mean you work through the clues a bit quicker. You need lots of brain power to solve the puzzles and riddles in there. ;)

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Renuka May 11, 2014 at 5:02 pm

This is something new! The dimly-lit room looks interesting and even the game sounds fun. I’ll check out the mindmaze link and understand it better.
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Mike of Mapless Mike May 11, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Wow! This is really cool! Prague is on my list of places to visit next year, and this is going to be on my to-do list there. Thanks for sharing, Audrey!
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Kiara Gallop May 11, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Wow, why have I not heard of this? I’ve been to Prague twice and no amount of research returned this little gem. It sounds amazing and 100% something I’d enjoy :-) It’s going on the travel hit list right now!
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Cheryl Howard May 11, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Very cool! I did something similar in Chicago except it was called Trapped in a Room With a Zombie. You’re locked in a room with a team and have one hour to figure out the clues and get out, all while not trying to be “killed” by the zombie. :)
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Audrey May 11, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Ohhh, that’s awesome! I’m planning to swing through Chicago this summer so I am definitely putting ‘escape a room full of zombies’ on my list! This will be fun…. :D

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Maria Falvey May 12, 2014 at 3:22 am

Excellent way to make new friends if you’re traveling solo – run an add for cohorts or I’m sure the management would be happy to help you find others to make that deuce or foursome.
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Shennae May 12, 2014 at 11:39 am

This sounds AWESOME!!! Hopefully I’ll get to visit Prague someday soon and give it a whirl!

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Jen Seligmann May 12, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Oh wow this looks like so much nerdy fun. I love it! My husband plays a game on his iPad constantly that is all about trying to get form room to room like this. He thinks he is really good at it but I would love to take him to something like this and see how good he really is. Yet another reason I need to get back to Prague soon.
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Franca May 12, 2014 at 4:04 pm

That is what I call something different. I’d love to take part to it too, I might just return to Prague for this alone :) Thanks for sharing Audrey
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Vanessa May 12, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Encarta Encyclopedia Castle Map game… YES! When my family got our first computer, I was in 6th grade and nerded out on Encarta’s map game with my sister. How cool to do this in real life! Prague just doubled in coolness points in my mind.
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Julio Moreno May 12, 2014 at 7:20 pm

I gotta admit that I didn’t read the whole article because I am afraid you gave away the solution. So…
1) Can I safely read this and still be able to do it?
2) How many different puzzles are there? This sounds pretty awesome, I love mazes and puzzles.
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Audrey May 21, 2014 at 5:03 am

Don’t worry, I didn’t give away any details! I wouldn’t want to ruin the experience for those coming after me. :) And there is only one maze, however, once you’re in there you’ll have to overcome several different obstacles.

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Katrina May 12, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Fantastic!!! I’ve been to Prague, but have never heard of this place (or any of the shows you mentioned). What a cool experience!
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Pauline May 12, 2014 at 10:13 pm

I’ve never been to the Escape rooms before, but there are a few popping up around Toronto. My friends have gone and they seem to enjoy the experience too!
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Mary @ Green Global Travel May 13, 2014 at 12:56 am

This sounds so fun!! You have really piqued my interest! I just may have to look into this. Thanks for sharing!

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Shelley May 13, 2014 at 5:06 am

This is so amazing, and might justify a trip to Prague all by itself!! ;) Thanks for sharing. How did you not go back in try again? I think I might get completely addicted and want to keep trying over and over again!!
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Audrey May 21, 2014 at 5:07 am

The thing is that they show you ‘the answer’ if you fail, so there’s no point in trying it again once you know where the clues are… However, I am going to try the experience in a few other cities that also have room escape games. ;)

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Nathan May 13, 2014 at 11:41 am

Sound like your having a great time in Prague!
When I get to Prague I will definitely go into the maze. It sounds like a really good hours fun and mystery.
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Sam May 13, 2014 at 4:05 pm

Wow, this looks so cool! I’ve been to Prague a bunch of times in the last 4 years, but never heard about this. Definitely something for next time. I didn’t grow up with the TV show you mention, but it does remind me of the Crystal Maze, which was on British television in the 90s. That takes me back!
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Audrey May 21, 2014 at 5:10 am

I like the sound of Crystal Maze! I didn’t grow up watching it, but if it involved riddles, puzzles, and clues, it would’ve been right up my alley. ;)

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Rika | Cubicle Throwdown May 13, 2014 at 10:45 pm

LOVE THIS!! And I totally played the Encarta game when I was a kid :)
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Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren May 14, 2014 at 8:28 am

Oh..my..god… THIS IS SO COOL! I’m definitely doing this when I visit Prague. Thank you so much for sharing, Audrey!

Happy travels :)
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Heather May 21, 2014 at 3:12 am

OOH! This is right up my alley! I did Operation Spy at the Spy Museum in Washington, DC, where your group has a “mission” to accomplish. We cracked safes, decrypted conversations and did all sorts of spy-like things. It was so much fun! Will be returning to Prague later this year and will definitely give this a go.
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Torsten May 30, 2014 at 3:54 am

I. Need. To. Do. This!!! Awesome idea :)

Thanks so much for telling us about this… I’ve added it to my bucket list!

Torsten @ http://www.mightytravels.com

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Chanel | Cultural Xplorer June 29, 2014 at 7:05 pm

This sounds so awesome! I just need to find someone in Prague to do this with now :)

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