As a small child, I used to collect stones. Over the years, I have amassed a small, but relatively impressive collection of anything I liked and came across on my trips around the country. Although I do not do so anymore, when I stumbled upon Mineralia on Havlíčkova street in Prague 1, I knew that I had to come back when I had more time. I wanted to give it some more attention. Whether you are into minerals or not, there is certainly something in Mineralia for everyone.
Mineralia is the largest mineral shop and exhibition in Central Europe, with over 1300m2 of display space. Marian Gajda is one of the co-owners and Mineralia’s director. Much like his family members, he is a professional in the field and his personal interest drove the idea of setting up a flagship base in Prague’s city center. Mineralia opened in October 2013 with the aim of attracting the public to the hobby of mineral collecting, offering an unrivalled opportunity to buy some stunning minerals while educating the public at the same time.
So what exactly is waiting for its visitors? I met up with Michal Pavel, Mineralia’s spokesperson, to discuss it further.
First of all, right after entering through the main entrance, you find yourself on the shop floor where you are welcomed by an impressive array of small and very large stones of all price-levels. Although the exact number of stones on sale is hard to estimate, it definitely counts in the thousands. Whether you are into polished stones, stoneware, crystals, meteorites, minerals or fossils, it is all there. The price range is anywhere in the hundreds all the way to hundreds of thousands of Czech Crowns for some of the rarest pieces on display. If you are looking for something specific to the country, the famous Moldavite (vltavín) gemstone is available for purchase in various sizes and price levels. What I found helpful were the many trained staff members who were willing to answer my questions (and there were many for sure).
As I was informed, the target audience consists of tourists, the general public, expats, families, schools, and businessmen who share a common interest in minerals of all price-levels. As one moves up to the second floor, there are more precious stones, gems and jewelry as well as the VIP room, which offers some of the rarest pieces for sale. For those who wish to invest in a mineral of great value or simply wish to decorate themselves with beautiful jewels, this floor hits the jackpot.
Mineralia would not be Mineralia without its extensive private collection available for all to see in the museum downstairs. A short walk down a couple of stairs and 250 CZK later, you are brought to the primary square-shaped display room with black walls, which is composed of some 15 large, tastefully displayed and well-lit cabinets. The room also extends through to a small hall where some selected rare minerals are displayed individually. Although a rough estimate, Mr. Pavel believed some 500+ pieces of minerals could be present for visitors’ eyes to feast on there. These range from colorful crystals to a fascinating display cabinet in the center of the room housing some impressive meteorites, including fragments of the well known Chelyabinsk meteorite that fell in Russia on February 13, 2013 and caused an international sensation. The museum also houses a lunar meteorite that is known for having originated from the moon.
Finally, a brand new part of the exhibition, “Mysterious Cave” has just been opened as part of the museum. Many visitors, especially with children will find this section of interest as it has many interesting elements to educate the young. You will be able to find a Tyrannosaurus (T-Rex) dinosaur fossil, a gold mine, a unique stalactite cave as well as copies of ancient cave paintings. A 4D cinema is also available simulating a fun journey through various caves.
Mineralia has recently announced that it is displaying two suitcases full of gemstones associated with a major fraud case dating back to the 1990s. These suitcases alone, incorrectly valued at 400 million were used as part of loans from banks that were never actually paid off. It was later discovered that their real value was only about 100,000 CZK. In the end, this series of fraud cases secured by these substandard gems cost the tax payer a whopping 20 billion CZK.
If you are like me and you find yourself wandering around the shop and the museum for extended periods of time, you may want to rest and refresh yourself. This is where the Crystal Cafe comes into play. Situated on the second floor, it offers a quiet and pleasant atmosphere reinforced by polished tables that are made of petrified (fossilized) wood slabs. I found the coffee I had a nice “icing on the cake” following what I found to be an amazing and unique location, perhaps for a meet-up with a friend, a date or for business meetings. I will be coming back.
Mineralia offers an unrivalled opportunity to discover a beautifully arranged and equipped mineral shop, museum, and cafe right in the center of Prague. Would I go there again? Yes, definitely. The sheer number of minerals for your eyes to enjoy or purchase makes this visit worthwhile and I will certainly come back again to see how the shop, museum, and café evolve in the upcoming future.
Do not miss the Mineralia competion!