If you’re going to visit the delightful capital of the Czech Republic Prague, then don’t forget to put in your must-see list – two very beautiful libraries – the Clementinum Library and the Strahov Library.
With awe-inspiring paintings and books that are full of traditional Czech literature, this gorgeous building, The Klementinum library, is home to many book-loving tourists. It is the home of 20 000 books, too, which is why it attracts so many book lovers from around the world. The ceiling frescoes were painted by artist Jan Hiebl and even today, you can see the marvelous strokes and how they perfect the scenes match the tone of the library. Jorge Luis Bourges even acknowledged the beauty of the library in his Spanish books years ago, the beauty of which still strikes home today.
The rare books that live here are starting to become scanned into Google books, and it is the hope that someday in the future they will become available for book lovers around the world to read. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t still going to want to visit the gorgeous library, though, which is hard to hate.
Image credits: Sean Yan
This baroque building was first opened in 1722 as a part of Jesuit University which was the third college in the world for its size. From its founding until the present day it has been a living center of culture and education and a symbol of magical beauty. Nowadays the library has more than 22 000 rare books. And by the way, everything is untouched as it was almost 300 years ago.
If you take a chance and visit Clementinum, you’ll understand why it is one the most beautiful libraries in the world! You’ll be amazed and won’t be able to take your eyes off the magnificent frescoes, old and rare books, a balcony with highly ornate, railing and stairs, historically rare big globes, handmade by the Jesuits, in the center of the room and astronomical clocks.
The Library Hall is decorated with rich golds, mahogany woods, and frescoes. The fresco paintings represent allegorical motifs of education, portraits of Jesuit saints and patrons of the university. Frescoes that are adorning the ceiling are painted by German-born artist Jan Hiebl.
He was also known for his painting trick which created the illusion of the ceiling disappearing, so you can see sunlight coming into the room. The illusive painting of the cupola symbolizes the temple of wisdom. There are medallions of the famous Jesuits on the sides and a portrait of Emperor Joseph II in the front part of the library.
Image credits: Olivier Martel Savoie
Except for the lavishly decorated interior, the Clementinum Library has the rarest books’ collection which mainly consists of theological books in different languages. There are also books that have been in the library since the time of the Jesuits (the one with white painted spines and red marks). The oldest book is “Vyshegrad Codex” (1085) – an illuminated Romanesque Gospel Book that dates back to 11th century and is considered to be the coronation Gospel of the first Czech king Vratyslav II.
The copy of this book is on the exhibition in a lobby of the library. Also, you can find here “Chronicle of Dalimil” (pocket edition), books of dogmatic, hermetic, numerology, over 6 000 medieval manuscripts, more than 3 000 incunabula editions, and many other rare volumes. Recently the library has provided some books for Google digitization, so soon these books will be available in a digital library on Google Books.
Image credits: klementinum.com
The Clementinum was mentioned in one of the famous Spanish novel “The Secret Miracle” by Jorge Luise Borges where the main character had a dream about the library of Clementinum in which the librarians looked for God in the library books. Also, some parts of the movie “Prince and Me” were shot in Clementinum.
Below you have some details about the library, its opening hours, fees, and a restaurant you can dine after touring around the majestic library.
Address: Marianske street 5, 11000 Prague, 1-Stare Mesto, Czech Republic
Ticket office: +420 733 129 252
January – February: 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
March – October: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
November – December: 10:00 am – 5:30 pm
Full = 220.00 CZK
Family = 500.00 CZK (1-2 adults with at least 1 and up to 3 children)
Reduced = 140.00 CZK (children from 8 to 18 years, high school and university students under 26)
Free – children under 7 years
Don’t forget to buy the Prague Card then you’ll have 25% off the full admission.
Image credits: Iztok Alf Kurnik
How to get there:
The Clementinum is situated near the Old Town Square, next to the Charles Bridge, in the historical center of Prague.
Subway: Greenline A, station “Staromestska”
Tramway: lines 17 – 18 stop “Straromestska” or “Karlove Lazne”
You can have guided tours in different languages in the Clementinum. Tours begin daily at 10.00 am and every 30 minutes and last about 45 minutes. When you are going to visit Clementium in a group of over 10 people, then you need to make a reservation in advance by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone +420 606 100 293. The tour can be held with a maximum of 25 people.
After an excursion, you can have a rest and eat a delicious meal at the Klementinum restaurant which is situated in the same complex as Clementinum. It has s large variety of traditional Czech dishes which taste great. The service is nice and attentive.
Address: Karlova 1, 11000 Prague 1 – Stare Mesto