Inside Prague’s most fascinating library

01 Oct 2018

LibraryStrahov Monastery, being the second-oldest monastery in Prague, was originally built in 1140 and has since been rebuilt several times due to war damage. Despite boasting several touristic attractions, the monastery’s most popular of all is its stunning library.

Strahov Library is the largest monastic library in the country, boasting two magnificent Baroque Halls which date back from the 17th and 18th centuries. As tempting as it may be, entering these libraries is not an option for the pubic, as fluctuations in humidity levels that are caused by visitors’ breaths have proven to endanger the frescoes. For that reason, visitors will only be able to peek through the doors – although that alone is enough reason to visit.

One of the halls is named the Philosophical Hall, a stunning 32-meter long hall built by Jan Ignaz Palliardi. Carved floor-to-ceiling cabinets and an exquisite ceiling fresco – Mankind’s Quest for True Wisdom – make up its interiors. Also found on the fresco are historical and religious personalities, as well as mythological scenes. 50,000 volumes about a variety of subjects – such as mathematics, poetry and astronomy – are all found in the cabinets. In the foyer, visitors can feast their eyes on a collection of miniature books and illustrated manuscripts.

The second hall is known as the Theological Hall, an older but arguably more beautiful one – storing 18,000 volumes. Ornate baroque stuccowork is found all over the low, curved ceiling. One can also see painted cartouches that depict the theme of ‘True Wisdom’, according to Lonely Planet. Additionally, a collection of geographical and astronomical globes is found in this hall. It was built by Giovanni Domenico Orsi in 1679.

The Strahov Monastery consists of a few other beautiful rooms that are worth visiting, including the picture gallery, which is made up of art from the Gothic through Romanticist periods, and the church, which presents a decorative Baroque interior. The Monastery is open to the public from Tuesday – Sunday, from 9am – 12pm and 12.30pm – 5.00pm.