Rudolf II of Habsburg was born in Vienna. His name has always been associated with magic and mystery, but also with pursuit of knowledge and tolerance. His work and his mind have marked a city and an era which is still remembered today.
The young Rudolf was educated at the Spanish court. He lived in Madrid and at El Escorial and very soon proved to have a rather complex personality. In 1571 Rudolf returned to the court of Vienna, where he was crowned first King of Hungary and Bohemia, and then in 1576, Emperor of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire. Since the very beginning, the young emperor had to deal with the religious opposition between Catholics and various Protestant denominations, but it was soon quite evident that Rudolf was more interested in arts, sciences and in the hidden and sublime secrets of nature rather than in political issues and wars of religion. In 1582 Rudolf leaves Vienna and moves to Prague. This decision, besides other political reasons, was also determined by other factors such as the search for beauty, but above all in the esotericism and architectural charm that the esoteric Emperor Charles IV had brought to the city. With Rudolf, Prague experienced its golden age.
Rudolf was literally obsessed by this science and at court, all the guests that were invited by the emperor in person, found themselves among the brightest and enlightened minds of the time. In exchange for protection, magicians, alchemists, astronomers, scholars and artists helped him to achieve his goal: to search for the philosophers’ stone and elixir of immortality, the symbols of supreme knowledge.