Ancient pharmacy of Santa Maria della Scala

The oldest pharmacy in Europe

Founded in the 16th century and opened to the public at the end of the following century, the Spezieria di Santa Maria della Scala is the oldest pharmacy in Rome and in Europe, a perfectly preserved little gem in the heart of Trastevere. The Discalced Carmelite Fathers cultivated, prepared and sold the precious medicines here until 1954, when the apothecary’s shop closed.

The Pharmacy of Popes and Cardinals

Because of its proximity to St. Peter’s, the pharmacy became so important over time that it was frequented by cardinals, princes and even popes, to the point of being known as the “pharmacy of the popes”. On entering the pharmacy, one is enchanted to admire the galenic laboratory and the ancient oil mills, the mortars and stills for distillation, the vases and historic majolicas, the ampoules and the ancient instruments for weighing medicines. The hall retains its 18th century wooden cupboards and furniture, while the ceiling is completely frescoed with the Carmelite coat of arms in the centre.

Important relics and old medicines

Among the many “medicines” preserved here is the Vaso della theriaca (jar of teriaca), a medicine used since Roman times as an antidote against poisons, composed of 57 different substances, including viper’s flesh. The Spezieria is also adorned with several important relics: such as the Trattato delli semplici, a very rare herbarium attributed to Fra Basilio, an 18th century apothecary, which contains a list of all the herbs used in the pharmacy, with a dry example on the corresponding page.

Don’t Forget

It is possible to visit the interior of the churches during opening hours and during liturgical celebrations.

  • Qualified guide/strong>
  • Full assistance
  • Personalised tour
  • Admission 5 euros from 5 years old


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